Wilde Lake takes control, earns spot in 3A state final, 2-0 Eighth shutout of season at W. Johnson's expense

November 11, 1997|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FREDERICK -- For the Wilde Lake and Walter Johnson soccer teams, the similarities were many. Both shared the same nickname, lost in state finals last season and clad themselves in green uniforms.

In last night's Class 3A state semifinals at Linganore High School, however, that's where the comparisons ended.

Freshmen Ian Rodway and Michael Dello-Russo each scored goals, and Wilde Lake controlled the midfield most of the way in a 2-0 victory.

With their eighth shutout this season, the Wildecats (12-2-2) advance to the Class 3A state finals Saturday at Old Mill High School, where they will face La Plata, a 1-0 winner over Bel Air in the nightcap.

It will mark their fifth state final appearance in seven years, including four straight, though they haven't won since 1991.

They got there by turning defense into offense, counter-attacking their Bethesda opponents at every opportunity.

After pressuring the goal for the first several minutes, Wilde Lake broke on top 7: 30 into the game when Josh Mazalewski fed Rodway in front, and the Wildecats' leading scorer beat goalie Josh Menditch to make it 1-0.

They then extended their lead to 2-0 with 36: 53 to play, when Dello-Russo scored off a feed from Rodway.

For the rest of the night, their defense took center spotlight. Time and again, the Wildecats thwarted Walter Johnson scoring chances, with defender Lars Berg even stepping in to head away an otherwise certain goal midway through the half.

"I thought we'd score, I really did," said Walter Johnson coach Corky Logsdon, whose Wildcats (9-7-3) had scored 12 goals in four previous playoff games. "Not only had we been scoring lately, but I saw some weaknesses in their defense. Obviously, we weren't able to exploit them."

Landing a spot in the finals is nothing new for Wilde Lake. Now the task turns to actually bringing home a trophy.

"I think we're going to do it this time," said Dello-Russo. "We have a lot of heart on this team."

Said coach David Nesbitt: "I'd rather be lucky than good. With a little luck, maybe we'll get one this time."

La Plata 1, Bel Air 0: Bel Air's streak of five consecutive shutouts came to a halt as the Charles County school scored with 3: 51 left in the first half to win.

The loss marked the second straight state semifinal loss for the Bobcats (9-5-2), who were outshot, 16-7.

"We didn't have enough good chances," said Bel Air coach Bill Jefferson. "They were just well coached, very quick, well skilled -- they really didn't have any weak spots."

After staying in a defensive posture early, the Bobcats nearly took the lead on a pair of prime scoring chances near the end of the first half.

First, Jason Kemper got the ball deep in the Warriors' end, took two steps to his left and shot a low bullet the goalie Justin Detig kneeled to smother with his chest with 8: 21 left. Two minutes later, Jon Sobus sent his direct kick from 20-yards out off the crossbar and out of play.

Pub Date: 11/11/97

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