By Nickolai Sukharev
BALTIMORE — The Whitman Vikings boys varsity soccer team won their 10th 4A MPSSAA State Championship title Friday, coming back to defeat Frederick County’s Urbana Hawks 2-1 at Loyola University.
The Hawks managed to score first but the Vikings equalized shortly after bringing the teams level at halftime. During the second half, the Vikings pressed their opponents to defend before taking the lead to win the game.
“We had an entire winter and summer to think about it and these guys made a decision early on that [winning the state title] was going to happen,” said Whitman coach Dave Greene, who won his sixth state title as the school’s head coach. “It doesn’t always work out that way but I was always very confident about their abilities.”
The Whitman Vikings previously won the 1979, 1981, 1989, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009, and 2014 MPSSAA 4A titles. This also marks the third time in a row that a boys varsity soccer team from Montgomery County Public Schools has won the state title, starting with Walter Johnson Wildcats in 2016, and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons in 2017.
The match started with the teams pressing each other and exchanging plays in the opposing half.
Hawks’ (17-3) freshman forward Max Riley latched onto the ball several times in the opening minutes but the Vikings defense responded quickly to cover their goal.
The Vikings (17-1) mounted attacks of their own but senior attacking midfielder Natan Rosen remained marked by Hawk’s defender William Micol.
Both teams attempted to outflank each other with senior forward Jack Eskay and senior midfielder Carson Colley advancing down the wings but could not get the ball in front of the goal. Rosen supported his teammate, senior forward Andrew Goldsholle, in the attack but could not find the breakthrough.
The Hawks scored 12 minutes from halftime when senior midfielder Lucas Roberton provided a cross for Micol who shot from just outside the Whitman box.
“That was actually the first time all season that we’ve been scored on first, but at least in my head [we were] very confident that we were going to come back and win,” said Whitman senior goalkeeper Sam Nordheimer.
Nine minutes later, the Vikings responded when Rosen dribbled through the left wing, outmaneuvering his markers, to score a low shot towards the far post.
The second half began with both teams looking to take the lead.
Hawks junior midfielder Nicholas Narvaez shooting from long range but his effort when wide of the Vikings goal.
Facing increased pressure, Hawks senior midfielder Fabien Valenzuela-Ruiz positioned himself in front of the backline to contain the Vikings’ counterattacks.
“We just needed to keep an eye on number 10,” said Urbana coach Scott Schartner.
Rosen and Goldsholle continued to lead their team in attack-creating opportunities to look for the breakthrough.
With 14 minutes remaining, the Vikings efforts paid off when junior forward Ben Wilson scored from close range after Hawks senior goalkeeper Zachary Gibbons spilled the ball in front of the net.
Having previously won the 2013 and 2016 3A state titles, Schartner explained the senior players of his team responded in their “own unique ways.”
Carson said he was “proud of every single guy” on his team.
Whitman senior midfield captain Thomas Mande explained that practice games against their reserve team players helped them mount the comeback.
“If we go down a goal, we don’t get on each other, we don’t get stressed; we just play our game and we get back into it,” he added. “We’ve gotten used to it.”
“I’ll come back next year, I feel like I’m still effective in what I do,” Green, who is coaching in his 40th year, about his future involvement with the team. “The day that I feel like I can no longer coach them and I don’t feel like I’m effective for them and can’t help them … then I’ll walk away.”