WINFIELD - Oakland Mills striker Malcolm Gillian has the angelic smile and demeanor of a choir boy. Get him on a soccer field, and he'll turn into a whirling demon right before your eyes.
South River found this out the hard way, as the speedy senior burned the Seahawk defense for four goals and Howard County's Oakland Mills (13-2) dumped the reigning Class 3A Region IV champions, 4-0, Friday in the state boys soccer semifinals at South Carroll High.
Gillian (15 goals) tallied his first three goals in the first 22 minutes. Just 10 minutes into the contest, he rebounded a blast from Parade All-American Clint Peay whose shot was deflected by Seahawk goalie Kevin Collison (11 saves).
"He (Gillian) is just an excellent ballplayer," said South River head coach Greg Carroll. "He's just as good a player as there is. He did it to us today in many different ways."
"I don't mean to sound arrogant, but this is just another typical game for us," said Scorpion head coach Don Shea. "We don't take anyone for granted, because at this level, anything can happen."
In the waning moments of the first half, Collison kept the game from getting out of hand by making three stellar saves. The first was a diving save on a scorching shot by Scott Newell. Newell then followed up his shot, but Collison was there once again with a point-blank stop.
Seconds later, Newell hit a third shot off of an errant Seahawks' clear that Collison neatly tipped over the crossbar.
"Going into the game, we didn't know too much about South River (10-4-1) except that they only had four shutouts on the season," said Shea. "Once we found that out, we knew that we'd be able to score on them. Where we're from, if you give up goals, you're history."
Just 11 minutes into the second half Gillian gathered in a loose ball from about 30 yards, and booted a right-footed line drive inside the far right post to end the Scorpions' scoring.
Carroll said, "I'll tell you, they really did earn that last goal, they just did an excellent job of moving the ball around."
"Their first three goals were a result of us not being in the right positions defensively. We stressed in practice all week that if we don't get to the ball at the same time these guys do, or even sooner, we would be in trouble."
With their ninth straight win, the Scorpions, the metro area's No.
1-ranked team, will attempt to claim their seventh state title next Saturday at Old Mill, where they will face Baltimore County's Franklin.
"I think we respected them too much, making us just a little less aggressive than we usually are," said Carroll. "Instead of playing up on them we tried to contain them, by playing off of them and that gave them too many opportunities to do something with the ball. They're just a step above the rest. They have all of the tools -- ball control, passing and teamwork.
"I thought that our strikers (Tom White, Jaime Trimmer and Mike Doherty) had an advantage over their defenders. Our guys are pretty fast, but they kept up with us stride for stride. They are just a great team."
While visibly disappointed, Carroll remained optimistic about his team's future. He lauded their regional championship season.
"I have no complaints this year. All in all, I think we had a pretty good season, and a pretty good overall record. I hate to end the season like this, because I know this game could have turned out better. We only have a couple of seniors leaving so I think we'll be in good shape next year."
The Seahawks were outshot, 25-5.