Manchester Valley's Brendan Krivak, center, fights… (Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing )
The Manchester Valley boys soccer team had plenty to deal with in Saturday’s Class 1A state final against defending champion Mountain Ridge.
The Miners from Allegany County went into the game with 17 wins in 18 tries and averaged 3.7 goals, boasting a relentless offense led by 26-goal scorer Chris Ranker.
Through 100 minutes of soccer, the Mavericks stubbornly stood their ground with a defensive effort that forced the scoreless game to be decided on penalty kicks. It was then that Mountain Ridge finally found the mark.
With Ranker, Andy Ferree, David Camacho and Connor Eberly all precisely finishing off penalty kicks, the Miners were finally able to separate themselves from the Mavericks to win the penalty kick shootout, 4-1, and take home the program’s second straight title at UMBC Stadium.
Manchester Valley, which opened the regional playoffs at 5-7, was able to impressively stick around until the season’s last day, capturing the South region and ending with a 9-8 mark.
Junior defender Drew Rose, who led the defensive front with fellow central back Graeme Kennedy and scored the Mavericks’ lone penalty kick try, put the title game and the team’s accomplishment in simple perspective.
“Even though we lost, we’re a three-year school and we made it to the state finals,” he said. “I’m happy with our season.”
The Miners came with a steady surge of offense throughout, while Manchester Valley created fewer opportunities on counters.
Ranker, seemingly around the ball all game, had the best of his countless chances with 1:05 to play in the second overtime when his left-footed shot from the left side went inches wide of the far post from six yards out. Mavericks sophomore goalie Kyle Johnston (nine saves) did well in dealing with eight corner kicks and a number of dangerous long throws by Mountain Ridge senior midfielder Jacob Bittner.
“They kept coming at us,” Manchester Valley coach Todd Hicks said. “I give my defense a lot of credit, winning a lot of ball in the air — particularly Drew and Graeme Kennedy. We had some chances. I think if we could have put some of them away, maybe it would have changed the outcome. But I’ve got to give [Mountain Ridge] a lot of credit. They played 100 minutes as fast as any team that we’ve ever played against.”