By Matt Cohen
“It took a lot of heart,” said B-CC boys soccer head coach Gui Melendez. “Phenomenal effort, incredible discipline, but I think above everything else, heart.”
Heart has been a driving force for the Barons boys soccer team this season. It was heart that came out of doubt.
Before the playoffs began, a Washington Post article ranking the top ten boys soccer teams in the area featured Churchill and Whitman in the top three, and claimed only by a shocking upset would those two not meet in the section final. It was an article that lit a fire underneath this team. It was an article that brought out the heart of this team.
Just two weeks later, the Barons are headed to the State championship game.
After taking down the Vikings and Bulldogs, and defeating Gaithersburg to win the region, the Barons faced Sherwood, with a spot in the final on the line.
The two teams were clearly evenly matched right from the start, with possession balanced well between both teams, and neither truly controlling the game. With a little more than half of the first half remaining, Sherwood scored, but the call was called off as the Warriors were offsides.
B-CC quickly responded with a great chance just minutes later, but the Warriors were able to come up with a stop. Carl Lauridsen and Liam Brocker were among a number of Barons that good first half opportunities. At halftime, the score remained 0-0.
With 26 minutes remaining in the second half, the Barons broke the ice. Eli Sturm drove a direct free kick towards the net from near the far sideline. The ball bounced inside the box, and went into the net, giving B-CC a 1-0 lead on Sturm’s fantastic shot.
B-CC almost doubled their lead within second as Justin Anderson had a shot on goal from close range, which was blocked by the Sherwood goalie. The ball bounced out of his arms, and to Brocker. However, Brocker didn’t have any room to get a shot off as the goalie dove back on the ball.
However, Sherwood wouldn’t go down without a fight. Ronald Little of the Warriors fired a hard curling shot toward the top corner of the net, but Barons goalie Bennett Schwartz made a fantastic save to preserve the clean sheet.
With around 90 seconds left to play, Sherwood was able to win a penalty kick. The shot would be struck just a little too high, as the ball hit the crossbar, and the Barons defense was able to clear with no damage done.
B-CC would cruise to the finish from there, beating the Warriors 1-0 to advance to the State championship game.
With the 1-0 win, the Barons are still yet to allow a goal in the playoffs. This was the closest margin of victory they have had, every other game has either been 2-0 or 3-0.
To get out of the section B-CC had to the beat the then number two and three ranked teams by the Washington Post. In the state title game, B-CC will face Severna Park, the team atop those rankings. There is no more fitting way for this incredible campaign to conclude.
“They want it real bad. I know other teams do, but it’s something about how bad we want it,” said Melendez.
The State title game will be played on Saturday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.