Saah Johnson transferred to Oakland Mills from Mount St. Joseph in September with the reputation of being a former Olympic Development Program national pool player.
Amid wet, trying weather conditions in the Class 1A state championship game yesterday at UMBC, he justified the hype by scoring both goals in Oakland Mills' 2-1 victory over Smithsburg.
It was a state-record 12th title for the ninth-ranked Scorpions (12-4), and their fourth in the past five years. They lost in the final last season.
"Glenn [Clardy, a teammate] asked me how many I was going to score today, and I told him two," Johnson said. "The conditions were bad, but everyone was playing well to my feet. Smithsburg was a good team."
Johnson entered the championship game with three goals all season.
His game-winning score yesterday resulted from a pass by Casey Wilbur at the 30-yard line. A skilled junior striker, Johnson turned inside, dribbled across the middle of the field and unleashed a hard shot from 20 yards that Smithsburg goalkeeper Sean Hunt nearly caught head high at the far post. But the ball dropped off his hands and barely into the goal in the 58th minute.
"On a dry field, he catches that ball," said Smithsburg coach Paul Newman. "Their other goal was field-related. We've never played on AstroTurf, so I told my team before the game we have to hope nothing bad happens until we adjust to it."
But for Smithsburg, something bad did happen early. Oakland Mills scored in the seventh minute when Stanley Kaweesi sent a long cross that bounced over Hunt's head at the 12-yard line and rolled toward the post. Johnson was there to softly kick it in.
"I knew he'd miss it so I timed my run," said Johnson, shivering from the cold and rain. "This feels so good."
Smithsburg (14-5-1) tied it with 2:22 left in the half on an 18-yard shot by David McDougal off an assist by Stephen Kurz.
The weather limited the speed and long throw-ins that were strengths for both teams. Smithsburg had scored a third of its 35 goals off long throws. Oakland Mills, which normally plays on narrow fields, also depended heavily for its 26 goals on long throws.
Adam Magruder, who had eight assists from long throws, was stymied by the rain and wide field.
"The ball was incredibly heavy from the rain and impossible to throw," Magruder said. "We started just skipping the ball [on throws] and hoping something happened. It almost did once."
Another transfer, Abraham Larrobra from High Point, also played a big role in Oakland Mills' victory. The junior fullback used his powerful foot in clearing balls.
"Abraham played great. He saved my butt over and over," said Wilbur, a right halfback.
Oakland Mills coach Don Shea, who coached his ninth state championship team, praised junior goalkeeper Dan Rogers.
Clardy missed a penalty kick for Oakland Mills with 13:06 to play. Kaweesi, guarded by three defenders, was taken down in the box after an outstanding run. Hunt tipped Clardy's shot off the post.