After the River Hill boys soccer team wrapped up the program's eighth state championship with a 3-2 overtime win over Loch Raven in Saturday's Class 2A final, second-year coach Matt Shagogue didn't have to think hard about the season's turning point.
It came early, when the Hawks (16-4) dropped a 3-1 decision to rival Mount Hebron in the county opener that put the team at 1-3.
"We just said our goal is to be undefeated the rest of year," he said. "What we did was, week by week, we said this week we need to go 2-0, and then this week we need to go 2-0, and everyone was barred against talking any farther ahead. It was only the team right in front of us, and it worked."
From there, the Hawks registered seven shutouts to finish 9-1 in county play. Then they shut out Oakland Mills, 1-0, in the county title game before closing out the season on a 15-game winning streak, highlighted by Saturday's title victory, which typified the team's determination throughout the campaign.
The Hawks scored goals on their first two shots in the first 11 minutes, only to see a determined Loch Raven team rally in the second half to send the game into overtime.
"It was a great team we played. It was up and down, back and fourth - we still kept our composure and our confidence. Towards the end of the game, we really played with a lot of heart, and we just weren't going to lose," senior goalie Pat Hudson said.
Wilde Lake girls soccer coach Dave Procida decided last summer that this would be his last season, but it won't be his last season watching high school soccer.
After five years coaching the girls, Procida will be in the stands watching the boys next season. His son, Robert Procida, will be a senior on the team.
"My son plays on the varsity team, and I don't get to see him play," Procida said. "Last year, the girls were like, `Come on coach. You've got to come out again,' and my son said, `Dad, you've coached me forever. Go ahead.' So I coached one more year."
That one more year helped the Wildecats reach the state championship game for the first time since 1991. They took it right down to the wire before falling in a shootout to Urbana, 4-2, after tying 2-2 in regulation.
Junior striker Faryn Watts said the Wildecats wanted to give Procida a state title before he retired.
"Playoffs were always what we wanted to do, but we've never made it past the second round, and we always knew that we could," Watts said. "He means a lot to us, so we really wanted to get this win for him. He's a great coach."
Procida, who had only three seniors on his team, said, "I'll miss the kids more than I'll miss the soccer, but I am absolutely proud that this team is the last team to call me coach. No question."
Part of the enjoyment that came with a second straight state championship for Glenelg girls soccer coach Dean Sheridan was sharing the time with his daughter, Maureen, who became an assistant this season.
"You just appreciate the next part of your life where your kids are adults and you can work with them in an adult-adult relationship. And getting the chance to work with Maureen this season was a great joy," said Sheridan, who has four daughters.
The feeling was mutual. Maureen, 23, is a Maryland graduate, who, like her father, teaches math.
"That was the coolest thing for me. And to hear him talk about us coaching together and how excited he is about it really meant a lot to me," she said.
Sun reporter Katherine Dunn contributed to this article.