- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
It had been almost a year ago since it happened, but Huntingtown had still not forgotten it had lost to Chopticon in the Class 3A South Region boys soccer championship game.
But thanks to a lucky bounce, the Hurricanes managed to exact a measure of revenge in a 2-0 win over the visiting Braves in a 3A South Region semifinal contest on Saturday.
“That [loss had] been playing on our minds after we beat Stone [a 6-2 win in the quarterfinals on Thursday],” Huntingtown head coach Rob Martin said. “We know what Chopticon is capable of in any given situation like this in the playoffs and we have respect for that. It’s a shame we couldn’t get it done last year, but [this year] we’re not done yet.”
The second-seeded Hurricanes (12-4 overall) traveled to Northern to tackle the top-seeded Patriots in the final on Tuesday. That game ended too late for inclusion into this edition. The Patriots earned their berth following a 5-0 victory over eighth-seeded Westlake in the quarterfinals on Thursday and a 2-0 win over fourth-seeded La Plata on Friday evening in the semifinals. Northern swept the season series against Huntingtown with 2-1 wins in the regular season and in final of the Patriot Classic.
The third-seeded Braves (9-4-1) bounced out Friendly of Prince George’s County in the quarterfinals on Thursday, 13-0, but saw their season come to a disappointing end two days later.
“The two goals; the first one was a lucky one, the second one our mistake, but [Huntingtown] is a good team, don’t get me wrong, they’re an excellent team,” Chopticon first-year head coach Eryk Peksa said. “They played well and they’re well-coached and I wish them luck in the playoffs and I’m sure they’re going to have plenty of luck. Just sometimes the ball doesn’t roll right for you.”
“We just didn’t click tonight,” said Chopticon senior goalie Doug Dixon, who was the main reason the Hurricanes didn’t score three times as many goals. “The ball just didn’t go our way. We couldn’t penetrate their defense and put the ball in the net. We weren’t on our ‘A’ game. We all played our hearts out, I know I did, but it kind of [stinks] to go out like this your senior year.”
The Hurricanes punched their ticket in part thanks to two fortuitous plays on offense.
Huntingtown opened the scoring just 16 minutes in when Keith Merriman scored after some apparent confusion between Dixon and his defense.
“Zach [Nega] played a nice ball, put that in there and I just poked it through the goalie,” Merriman said. “I think the player was waiting for the goalie to come out and [vice-versa and] I was just on it.”
Dixon added, “It was more that one of my defenders touched the ball and their guy made a great play on it. I came out but he just finished it. I could have come out quicker but…”
Peksa said it was just unfortunate.
“It’s just one of those things that happen,” he said. “Dougie is an awesome goalie and he did an excellent job all season. I can’t say one bad thing about him; he gave me his all today. I know that.”
Martin added that, “it was a scramble in there and it happened to go in for us.”
Huntingtown added to its lead in the 71st minute when Mason Loyd drilled a shot past Dixon.
Meanwhile, the defense was doing its part as it limited Chopticon to just four shots on goal.
“We played well and also the midfielders were getting back, so we were able to shut down their offense before it even got to us really,” Huntingtown defender Patrick Wilkerson said. “During the [regular] season, we made some mental errors, but now I don’t think we’re making as many and we’re capitalizing and making tackles. We don’t want our goalie to touch the ball whatsoever. If he doesn’t touch the ball in a half, or even a game, that’s good.”
And goalkeeper Reis Richardson did almost that. The Braves had their first shot on goal four minutes in, but their second was 35 minutes later.
“They’re a very solid bunch of guys and it helps having capable and veteran guys back there,” Martin said of his defense.
The mood was much more somber a few feet down the sideline.
“It is disappointing we lost,” Peksa said, “but sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”
“I’m real proud,” said Dixon, who hopes to play goalie in lacrosse in college. “We had the best record in history at Chopticon, so that felt good but we had the skill, we could have gone farther than this. It always sucks playing Huntingtown. They’re a good team, but … I just hate losing.”