Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007

Magruder’s boys soccer legacy is completed

Boys Soccer: Magruder 5, Perry Hall 1

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Laurie DeWitt⁄The Gazette
Magruder senior Justin Lee celebrates his goal, the third of the Colonels’ five in their state-final win.
With one last dominant performance, the Magruder boys soccer team proved what it showed all season — that it was one of the best teams Montgomery County, and the state, has ever seen.

The Colonels’ 5-1 victory over Perry Hall last Saturday at South River High School in Edgewater was simply a microcosm of their whole season. All the attributes that allowed them to rack up a perfect 19-0-0 record from early September through mid-November were on display: explosiveness, technicality, precision and toughness. Offense, defense and everything in between.

‘‘They’re good,” said Perry Hall head coach Danny Skelton. ‘‘Very good.”

It was the understatement of the year. The Colonels seemed to play with a chip on their shoulder all year. Not only were they playing for their late, former head coach, Scott Alexander, but for revenge. They appeared to be the best team in the state last year, like this one, as they were undefeated headed into the postseason. But they ran into an upstart Whitman team in the 4A West Region semifinals, and the feisty Vikings sent Magruder packing with a 1-0 defeat.

But this past weekend, the Colonels made sure early and often that they would run into any such giant killers. In the 15th minute, midfielder Justin Lee sent in an arching cross that was headed down by striker Draymond Washington and deflected in the goal by midfielder Mike Lansing. In a show of solidarity, the whole starting lineup ran over to the near sidelines to celebrate with Lansing, and the rout was officially beginning.

In the next 10 minutes, Washington would score twice, then Lee blasted in a tremendous right-footer with six minutes remaining in the half. By this time, the score was 4-0, and there was no doubt who the best team in the state was.

As the head linesman for the game remarked: ‘‘It’s like a college team out there.”

What made the Colonels so good was their balance. Seemingly anyone in their lineup could score, defend, and handle the ball expertly. Up top, seniors Washington and Alex Lee — who missed the final after being yellow-carded twice in Magruder’s semifinal victory over Bowie — both tied a school record with 21 goals on the season. Lansing was the driving force in the middle, with impeccable footwork and vision that produced a staggering 16 goals and 19 assists. Justin Lee, who head coach Steve Pfeil once said, ‘‘plays anywhere on the field where we need a lift,” not only added eight goals and 11 assists, but bridged the best offense in the county with the best defense in the county. All told, the team scored a school-record 85 goals, demolishing the previous record of 70.

And that’s where the other side of the ball came into play. Their back line, spearheaded by stifling defender Ifiok Akpandak, allowed just eight goals on the year and 0.42 per game. Finally, goalkeeper Steve Magliaro spearheaded 12 shutouts.

The numbers speak for themselves.

‘‘Beforehand, I said the harder that Perry Hall pushes, the stronger we’re going to fight back,” said Pfeil after an unbeaten first year as head coach. ‘‘I said it’s perfect. We want a challenge, because I think we’ll rise to it.”

Needless to say, they did, all year long.