With less than five minutes remaining in Saturday's County 4A boys soccer showdown between Broadneck and host Meade, Broadneck head coach Kevin McMullen walked over to the scorer's table just to make sure that he wasn't dreaming.
"What's the score? Five to nothing? Unbelievable," said the smiling ninth-year mentor.
In what has to be the strangest of seasons for the Bruins, McMullen's reaction is understandable. After a relatively tight first half, the visiting Bruins, led by striker Matt Weimer's three goals, exploded for four second-half goals en route to a surprising 5-0 victory over the Mustangs at Riffenburg Field.
With its first league win, Broadneck (4-2-4 overall, 1-2-3 league) greatly improved its odds of making the state playoffs. Their chances had looked slim after coming up with four straight draws earlier this season (three against league opponents Chesapeake, Old Mill, and Annapolis, the other against 3A South River), and losing 2-1 to North County on Oct. 12.
On the other side of the coin, Meade (6-4 overall, 4-3 league) must win both of its remaining games at Queen Anne's Tuesday afternoon, and Severna Park Friday, and hope that the Bruins drop their two remaining home games against Glen Burnie and Arundel.
Currently, Broadneck is ranked fourth in region IV play, while Meade dropped down to fifth. North County (10-0), Severna Park (8-2) and La Plata (7-1-1) of Charles County are the top three seeds thus far.
"We knew that denying them the eight points (for a 4A win) would be crucial today, but they (Broadneck) came out and played very well, they deserved to win it," said Mustang head coach Dean Harrison.
With just under nine minutes remaining in the first half, Weimer, who registered his first two goals of the year against Southern last Tuesday, cranked a right-footed shot into the left corner of the net to put the Bruins on top for good.
Things could have been much worse for Meade during the opening stanza, had it not been for goalkeeper John Gratson (eight saves). During one series in the middle of the first half, the junior goalie snuffed a breakaway opportunity by Rich Aftoora, then made a reflex save of a Brad Reinhart header attempt.
Unfortunately, the second half was not so kind to Gratson and his teammates. Just four minutes into the half, Weimer stuck a rebound shot into the right corner of the goal to give Broadneck a 2-0 lead. With exactly 20 minutes remaining in the match, senior sweeper Jarrett Smith directed a left-footed shot into the back of the net. Bard Reinhart, (assisted by Weimer) and Weimer (assisted by Keith Doherty) slammed the door shut on Meade by scoring back to back goals within the space of five minutes.
With the hat trick, Weimer became the Bruins second leading scorer behind Aftoora, who has six goals. The six-foot-one junior had been playing fullback for most of the year, but was moved up to offense to help draw some attention away from Aftoora.
"The plan was to help Rich get free and take some pressure away from him," said Weimer. "I played striker last year, so I'm used to the position."
"It seems that where ever Matt plays, that's where our strength is," said McMullen. "We've always had the potential to put up the numbers that we did today, and Matt helped us a lot."
While Broadneck outshot Meade 14-4, and totally dominated play on the offensive end of the field, McMullen praised his defensive unit, led by Smith and senior Kevin Chapman.
"This was our sixth shutout of the year, and because of our defense, we're still in the thick of things. They've been doing an excellent job all season," said McMullen.
"To make it short and sweet, we were simply out-hustled and outplayed," said Harrison. "We tried to attack them the way we did against Arundel (2-0 win last Tuesday), but it just didn't work."