Raiders con­tinue cham­pi­onship arc with 9th straight vic­tory

Loch Raven starts quickly, closes out semi­fi­nal vic­tory for trip to state ti­tle game

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Glenn Gra­ham glenn.gra­ham@balt­ twit­­nGra­hamSun

Bol­stered by a strong se­nior class, the Loch Raven boys soc­cer team had this sea­son pegged as po­ten­tially spe­cial for awhile now.

The Raiders are mak­ing good on the op­por­tu­nity.

In Fri­day’s Class1A state semi­fi­nal against In­ter­na­tional High School at Lan­g­ley Park, they got the nec­es­sary of­fense early and pro­tected the ad­van­tage ca­pa­bly in claim­ing a 3-1 win at North­east High school.

Loch Raven (12-6-1) will make its eighth state cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ance next week – set to take on Sat­ur­day’s Pat­ter­son Mill-Moun­tain Ridge semi­fi­nal win­ner – with a bid to win the pro­gram’s fifth ti­tle and first since 2009. The ti­tle games for all four clas­si­fi­ca­tions are set for Thurs­day through Sat­ur­day at Loy­ola Mary­land’s Ri­d­ley Ath­letic Com­plex with the sched­ule yet to be set.

The Raiders, who got first-half goals from Sam Korzi and Bren­dan Hur­ley with Re­ice Thuer­rauch pro­vid­ing in­sur­ance with 12 min­utes left, go into the cham­pi­onship game win­ners of nine straight games.

“It’s our last ride and we want to win it all. We want to bring it home,” said cap­tain Chris Si­maku, one of 12 Loch Raven se­niors.

The Raiders came out fo­cused and hun­gry.

Less than two min­utes into play, Korzi pounded on an er­rant clear and fin­ished from eight yards for a 1-0 ad­van­tage.Con­tin­u­ing to get for­ward, they made it 2-0 with 31:28 to play in the first half when Si­maku’s cor­ner reached the far post where Hur­ley was quick to fin­ish.

It proved to be enough with the Raiders de­fense, led by se­nior cen­ter Cal Ha­gan, an­swer­ing the chal­lenge in the sec­ond half.

“Get­ting two goals right off the bat like that was great – I didn’t ex­pect that,” Loch Raven coach Matt Rade­baugh said. “We knew we would be able to do well in the box against them and were able to do that, and then it was pretty much hold­ing on for dear life from that point on. They were pres­sur­ing our mid­field, but we were able to with­stand it and get­ting that goal late was huge.”

The Phoenix, from Prince Ge­orge’s County, set­tled in and their pres­sure mid­way through the half re­sulted in a penalty kick that Yaya Di­aba­gate neatly placed in the lower left cor­ner to cut the lead to 2-1 at the break.

But the Raiders pro­tected the lead re­spon­si­bly through­out the sec­ond half be­fore re­lief came from Thuer­rauch’s goal.

The North re­gion cham­pi­ons will go into next week’s ti­tle game hav­ing outscored four play­off op­po­nents 23-3.

The Phoenix play­ers have been or cur­rently are in the English lan­guage learn­ers pro­gram and are a col­lec­tion from Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Uganda, Hon­duras,Gu­atemala, El Sal­vador, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Six se­niors have been starters for all four years, dat­ing back to 2015 when the pro­gram be­gan at the ju­nior var­sity level, and this was its sec­ond straight semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ance.

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