Pocomoke puts stop to Oakland Mills' run

Scorpions miss claiming 4th straight crown, 3-1

Class 1A boys soccer

November 18, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

There is no four-peat for Oakland Mills.

Senior forward Allen Justis scored a hat trick to provide Pocomoke a 3-1 win in last night's Class 1A state final, ending the Scorpions' bid for a fourth straight title.

It was seemingly a mission impossible for Pocomoke because the Scorpions had won 11 of 12 previous state final appearances.

But the three goals by Justis, who has 34 this season, allowed the Warriors of Worcester County to claim their third state title and first since 1995.

"I thought we were cooking for the first 15 minutes," Scorpions coach Don Shea said. "But we've had a lot of distractions this week and just didn't seem mentally ready to play."

Oakland Mills' starting goalkeeper, Sean McElroy, was seriously injured in a mugging just hours after last week's semifinal win. He attended last night's game at UMBC but was unable to play. He was replaced by Dan Rogers.

Oakland Mills limited Pocomoke to six shots, and Rogers made one save before giving way late in the game to Mike Baer, who also made a save.

Brandon Hawkes, the Scorpions' leading scorer with 10 goals, connected a penalty kick with 12:39 left. Immediately after the goal, Shea sent in his second string to finish out the game.

"This is one of the worst feelings," Hawkes said. "It was even worse because we pulled all our starters with 15 minutes to play and then I couldn't do anything else about losing. I felt helpless."

Hawkes also kicked a shot off the crossbar in the 53rd minute with the Scorpions trailing 2-0. Oakland Mills got only four shots.

Justis' first goal, in the 21st minute, was Pocomoke's only shot of the first half. He split the normally impenetrable Scorpions defense with a quick move down the middle and found a seam after a short give-and-go pass from Zach Beitzel.

Justis added another goal for Pocomoke (16-3) in the 45th minute, using his left toe to flick in a pass from Justin Atkinson just inside the far post. It was Pocomoke's third shot of the game.

Justis then buried the Scorpions with a powerful left-footed goal in 57th minute.

"We told them he always turned left and you have to be there," Shea said. "And every time he turned left, he was running for the trees."

Said Justis: "I had four guys on me most of the game and we knew we had to move the ball quickly."

Oakland Mills (8-6-2) was the only Howard County representative to reach the finals this season. It was just the third year since 1979 that a Howard County team failed to win a state title. Howard County had won 10 championships in the past four seasons.

Corner kicks and long throw-ins, which provided the Scorpions most of their scoring this season, were at a premium yesterday.

"We worked in practice all week on not letting them turn to the sideline so they wouldn't get many long throws," Justis said.

Goals: OM-Hawkes; P-Justis 3. Assists: P-Atkinson, Beitzel. Saves: OM-Rogers 1, Bear 1; P-Schoolfield 1. Half: P, 1-0.

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