Glenelg High completed a rags-to-riches season with the school's first boys state soccer championship yesterday at Old Mill High School.
After overtime, the Gladiators remained tied with unbeaten Rockville of Montgomery County, 0-0, in the Class 2A final, so the two teams are co-champs. Rockville (13-0-3) was the defending 2A co-champ.
Not only was it the Gladiators' first state title, it was also their first winning season and first time in the playoffs.
A year ago Glenelg was 5-6-1. It ended this season 12-2-2.
Both team's midfields sparkled, but it was the defenses that carried the day, led by two Olympic Development Program state team goalkeepers Russell Payne of Glenelg and C. J. Norton of Rockville.
Rockville's defense allowed just one goal all season, and when ++ the Rams won the opening coin toss they confidently elected to give Glenelg a wind advantage in the first half.
"We thought if we could hold them without a goal in the first half and get one ourselves, they'd never be able to score against the wind in the second half," Rockville coach Larry Nuzzaci said.
Glenelg's offense dominated the first half, outshooting Rockville, But Glenelg's best opportunity glanced off Norton's hands and hit the top of the post where it meets the crossbar.
Rockville played a physical game, drawing 16 fouls in the first half to just five for Glenelg. Glenelg also had six corner kicks and eight other dangerous free kicks that half.
Despite the wind, Glenelg continued to attack effectively in the second half, and actually produced its most dangerous threats in that half.
"We've been a second-half team all season," Glenelg coach John Bouman said.
For the game, Glenelg outshot Rockville 18-5. Rockville committed 29 fouls to Glenelg's 17. Glenelg had a big edge in corner kicks, 10-2.