The only thing that stood between Dulaney and a regional championship yesterday was Laurel goalkeeper Justin O'Brien.
And for 72 minutes, he was enough.
But with eight minutes left, the struggle to put one past O'Brien finally ended when senior forward Brad Crossley scored. Dulaney won the game, 2-0, at home to clinch the state Class 4A, Region II title.
"We were getting frustrated," Crossley said. "But we felt the way we were controlling the game, and if we just kept hitting the ball on goal, we would get one."
Junior Paul Gonzalez passed the ball from midfield to Crossley, who beat a defender and rolled a left-footed shot past O'Brien, who made eight saves, none of them easy.
Once Dulaney (12-0-1) took the lead, Laurel was forced to move O'Brien upfield to generate some offense. The Lions caught him out of the goal and Matt Rich scored on a shot from midfield.
Dulaney coach Craig Laferty said he had scouted the Spartans' counterattack style and worked on getting his players back fast enough to intercept a pass and turn it around quickly, leaving a Lions forward to go one-on-one with a Spartans defender.
"I knew if we could get one into Crossley, he would win one of those battles [with a defender] eventually," Laferty said. "I hate to wait that long [for a goal], but we felt we could do it.
"It was just a matter of time."
The Lions, who will start play in Maryland soccer's version of the Final Four next week, outshot Laurel,14-8, and controlled most of the game. They got defensive support from goalkeeper Mason Ray, who made six saves.