Oakland Mills boys soccer coach Don Shea searched for just the right words to be polite to a South River team the Scorpions had just demolished in the Class 3A state semifinal game, 4-0.
"We've been through a lot of hardship this year, and we just weren't going to be stopped tonight," Shea said after the game at South Carroll High School.
He was referring to an incident in which three starting players were suspended for 15 days for drinking beer at a school dance.
The incident disrupted the team and was directly responsible for the Scorpions losing to Bowie.
The Scorpions had to play Bowie, a Class 4A state semifinalist, the first day the suspension was in effect.
That loss, and one to Howard in the sixth game in which the Scorpions came up extremely unlucky, losing 3-2, left Oakland Mills with its back to the wall in its hope for a state title.
It could not afford to lose a third game and make the playoffs.
In the pre-season, Oakland Mills was a solid favorite to win a state title, and Shea was calling it his greatest team ever. So the season was in disarray.
The Scorps finally got their focus back together after the Howard loss and won their last six regular season games, then beat two tough opponents, Howard and Centennial, in the regionals.
The team went into the South River contest extremely confident, knowing that its toughest games were probably behind it.
Malcolm Gillian, who scored all four goals against South River, said the team wasn't worried at all about South River.
Gillian, who has scored 15 goals in eight games since being moved to forward, made it look easy.
"It was as easy as it looked," he said. "They didn't play a sweeper, so the guy who marked me had no support system."
You can't play a Howard County team without a sweeper and have any hope of winning, Shea said.
Gillian scored in the 10th minute from inside the 10-yard line off a rebound. Clint Peay initiated the play with a shot from 30 yards out.
Gillian scored again in the 20th minute off a pass from Peay from about 18 yards out.
He scored a third goal into the lower right corner off a penalty kick in the 21st minute.
And his final goal came in the 54th minute, a 25-yard shot from the center of the field.
"That's the first time I ever scored four," said Gillian, who scored three earlier this year against Hammond.
Peay, who had two assists, compared South River to Hammond, a team the Scorps had no trouble beating during the league season, and a team near of the bottom of the county league standings.
"I told them before the game they weren't going to lose to South River," Shea said. "But we wanted to get our younger players game time in both the first and second halves and we did that. So we got what we wanted out of this game."
Oakland Mills used four goal keepers.
South River (10-4-1), which started just three seniors, were outshot, 25-5. The Seahawks were Region IV champs and beat McDonough of Charles County to reach the semifinals.
For Oakland Mills, it was their ninth straight victory and improved their record to 13-2.
The Scorps will play the state championship game next Saturday at Old Mill High School at 5 p.m. against the winner of Friday's Kennedy/Franklin game.
Shea expected the winner to be Kennedy, a team Oakland Mills beat earlier this year, 3-0.
Kennedy tied Howard for the Class 3A title last year after losing to Howard during the regular season.
"That's what we have to remember for next week," said Shea. "We don't want to be tied."