As a handpicked group of Urbana High School’s players and their coach sat behind a collapsible table inside an auxiliary room at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s soccer field, the cement walls did little to dampen the primal screams coming from next door.
Reservoir’s players were still elated, yelling and jumping and celebrating a 3A boys’ state championship as Urbana answered the all-too-familiar what happened questions.
For the third time in four years, the Hawks reached the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state title game and lost, this time against Reservoir, 3-2 in overtime. Urbana’s previously-undefeated season was left incomplete.
“Tonight’s match, obviously, was a disappointing final result for us,” Urbana coach Scott Schartner said. “But I couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of our guys and the response [after Reservoir took the lead].”
The Hawks played without their leading scorer, William Eskay, who received a red card in the semifinals against North Harford. Eskay finished the season with 16 goals and 10 assists.
Urbana struck first on a sneaky set piece in the 14th minute when Austin Thames unleashed a quick free kick from roughly 24 yards out that caught the Gators by surprise and sailed past goalkeeper Braulio Linares. It was set pieces, however, that ultimately did in the Hawks as all three of the Gators’ goals were generated from either free kicks or a corner.
Reservoirs’ game-winning goal came in the 85th minute when Mike Peprah made a far-post run and caught the end of Emilio Rodas’ corner kick.
“They had a corner called for them at the very end, they had their big guys at a dangerous spot and the ball was served right to them,” Schartner said. “We knew they were going to be a very physical and tough team.”
Reservoir tied the match in the 44th minute after another Rodas free kick banged off the near post. The rebound careened toward the center of the goal box and senior midfielder Javier Wardcantrori knocked it in past Urbana goalkeeper Brian Howell.
“I was hitting good corner kicks, good set plays all throughout the game. I really felt it. When I got [the final corner], I just did what I was doing the whole game. It just came natural, I guess,” Rodas said.
The Gators’ go-ahead goal came in the 61st minute, again off a set piece. Rodas took a free kick from the right flank that was headed across the goal mouth from the far post by Dan Vazquez. The end of that header was knocked in by Carvell Akuffo.
“Their weaknesses were their set plays,” Reservoir coach Reg Hahne said. “Our corner kicks, we’ve been working on them all year.”
With roughly 15 minutes remaining, however, the Hawks significantly increased their offensive pressure. A number of chances just missed as Urbana won back-to-back corners and midfielder Paul Windsor barley missed connecting on a sublime bicycle kick that was swatted over the crossbar by Linares.
Urbana tied the match in the 73rd minute when senior midfielder Jonathan Kordell streaked down the near flank and delivered a perfect far-post cross to Brett LaBonte. LaBonte headed the ball just by Linares for the dramatic equalizer. On his way back to midfield, LaBonte executed a combination back flip-cartwheel to celebrate.
“I was very happy to score that goal to send us into overtime,” LaBonte said. “I felt like we were going to win that game.”
3A Boys Soccer State Championship
Reservoir 3, Urbana 2 (OT)
Urbana (17-1-1) 1 1 0 — 2
Reservoir (14-6-0) 0 2 1 — 3
Urbana — Austin Thames (14’), Brett LaBonte (73’)
Reservoir — Javier Wardcantrori (44’), Carvell Akuffo (61’), Mike Peprah (85’)
Urbana — Jonathan Kordell (73’)
Reservoir — Emilio Rodas 2 (44’, 85’)