Great Mills wins first regional title in 44 years
Great Mills shuts out Potomac to claim first region crown in 44 years
OXON HILL — It had been so long since the school’s last trip to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state semifinals that waiting another day seemed to hardly phase coaches and players from the Great Mills High School boys soccer team.
One day after their scheduled Class 3A South Region championship game at Potomac High School in Oxon Hill was belatedly postponed on a dreary, rainy day, Great Mills upended Potomac 3-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Oxon Hill High School to officially end the Hornets’ 44-year drought of region titles.
“We drove to their school [Tuesday] and the field was under water when we got there, but the referees did not want to postpone the game until 2:45 [p.m.] because their athletic director still wanted to play the game,” Great Mills heaed coach Matt Protzman said. “The field was completely under water when we got there.”
Great Mills again made the long commute to and from Prince George’s County on Wednesday and this time amid the drier, suitable conditions on the Oxon Hill field turf, the Hornets got one goal each from freshman Kelvin Coronado and juniors Michael Salguero and Tucker Protzman to cruise to the 3-0 victory.
The Hornets (14-3 overall) is scheduled to face 3A East Region champion Centennial of Howard County at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Linganore High School in Frederick.
Tucker Protzman scored the last goal of the game with just over 33 minutes remaining on a free kick and he appeared
to score the first goal of the game on a similar play in the opening minute of the contest. But after seeing his shot just elude the outstretched fingertips of Potomac goalkeeper Miguel Lopez, Tucker Protzman and his teammates were perhaps stunned to see his initially tally negated by an offsides call.
“Every time I line up to take the free kick I’m looking to put the ball on goal,” Tucker Protzman said. “I usually like to make the goalie make a play on it and if he doesn’t, the ball goes in the net. If he can’t stop the ball, then one of my teammates can crash the net and get it past him. After watching him play, we definitely wanted to challenge their goalie in the second half.”
Roughly five minutes after Protzman’s goal was waved off, Great Mills got on the board when Coronado ran down a loose ball in the box and drilled a low shot into the back left corner of the net. Both teams had several chances to score over the remainder of the first half, but the Hornets took the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
In the opening stages of the second half, Great Mills mounted a good offensive and pushed the advantage to 2-0 when junior Gabriel Ichniowski delivered a soft centering pass to Salguero, who onetimed a low shot past the diving Lopez to double the Hornets’ advantage less than two minutes into the second half.
Great Mills was hardly finished attacking, however, and five minutes later Tucker Protzman sent a high, free kick over the Potomac defenders that Lopez failed to catch and the bouncing ball just crawled over the goal line before Salguero could head it into the net. The 3-0 lead enabled the Hornets coaches to substitute freely, which proved fortuitous on two fronts.
Over the last 30 minutes of the game, Potomac players were considerably more aggressive on slide tackles and the officials handed out three yellow cards and one red card to the Wolverines. Great Mills also gave several starters a rest and reserves recently promoted from the junior varsity squad got into the game to spell their starters and take the brunt of the Wolverines intense physical play.
“I was only a year old the last time that Great Mills won a region title in boys soccer,” Matt Protzman said. “There was no way we could play on that field at their place on Tuesday. It would not have been fair to either team to decide the region title on that field. It was under water and someone could have gotten seriously hurt.”
Great Mills High School freshman Kelvin Coronado, center, is congratulated by teammates Marcus Minich, left, and Michael Salguero, right, after Coronado gave the Hornets a 1-0 lead over Potomac in the first half of Wednesday’s Class 3A South Region final. Great Mills eventually won 3-0.
Above, Great Mills High School head boys soccer coach Matt Protzman, standing third from right, talks to his players at halftime of Wednesday’s Class 3A South Region final game against Potomac at Oxon Hill High School. The Hornets led 1-0 at the intermission but eventually prevailed 3-0 to earn a berth in Saturday’s 3A state semifinals against Centennial High School of Howard County at Linganore High School in Frederick. Below, Great Mills High School’s Gabriel Ichniowski passes the ball to teammate Michael Salguero early in the second half against Potomac in Wednesday’s Class 3A South Region final and Salguero scored the Hornets second goal as Great Mills prevailed 3-0 for their first region title in 44 years.