POOLESVILLE -- Winning a state championship is something the seniors on Glenelg have talked about for many years.
Last night, the Gladiators moved one step closer to fulfilling that dream.
After being idle for nearly two weeks because of a pair of early- round byes, Glenelg shrugged off any cobwebs that may have formed and handed the homestanding Indians from western Montgomery County a 2-0 defeat in the Class 1A South region semifinals.
"We were determined that this wasn't going to be our last game," said senior forward David Harris. "A bunch of our seniors have played together since we were little kids and we always said, 'When we're seniors, we're going to win the state title.' Now, it's all starting to happen."
The victory moves the Gladiators into tomorrow's 5 p.m. region final against Hammond at Howard High. It also gives Glenelg a chance to exact some revenge from Hammond, a team that defeated the Gladiators, 2-1, during the regular season.
"Six of us seniors have been playing together since we were like 6 years old and we've always talked about winning states. We kept saying, 'We got to do it,' " said Mike Farley, referring to teammates Harris, Jeremy Shry, Justin Benoliel, Alex Blazek and Chad Marshall, who were first teamed together on the under-7 Glenelg Top Guns in the Western Howard County rec league.
Glenelg, which hadn't played a game since its Oct. 22 loss to Centennial (5-2), took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute when Blazek headed home a free kick from Farley.
The Gladiators had two other prime scoring opportunities before the half, including an apparent score by Harris in the closing minutes, but both plays ended with an official ruling that Glenelg was offside.
Poolesville, which advanced to the semifinals by defeating Oakland Mills, 1-0, in overtime last week, controlled the midfield throughout most of the second half but couldn't solve Glenelg goalkeeper Benoliel (11 saves).
Glenelg's offense, outshot 13-7, added an insurance goal with 15: 30 remaining. Farley picked up his second assist of the game by feeding Harris on a breakaway.
"I was kind of winded and I just ran as hard as I could," said Harris, who missed part of the season after being injured and flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center during an early-season matchup with Oakland Mills. "The goalie came out and I just curved it right out around him with my left foot."
Benoliel came under heavy fire in the waning minutes but held his ground. During one sequence, the senior co-captain knocked away three consecutive shots from point-blank range to preserve the two-goal margin.
"In all honesty, I was worried about Poolesville because I saw them play Oakland Mills and I thought their touches were tremendous," said Glenelg second-year coach Peter Klisas.