BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s boys’ varsity soccer team’s special 2011 season came to a close this week with a 4-0 upset loss to surprising Mount Hebron in the state Class 3A-East region final on Tuesday.
The Seahawks were nearly perfect this season, their only loss coming to Bayside Conference rival Bennett in the regular season finale. Decatur captured its first Bayside Conference championship in a decade and earned the number-one seed in the 3A-East region tournament.
Decatur turned in workman-like efforts through the early rounds of the state regional tournament, beating ninth-seeded River Hill, 3-0, last Tuesday and cruising past fourth-seeded Centennial, 2-0, last Friday to reach the region final. Meanwhile, something special was happening on the other side of the 3A-East region bracket as 10th-seeded Mount Hebron continued to knock off the top seeds in the 3A-East tourney.
Mount Hebron started its improbable run with a 6-1 win over Annapolis, then beat second-seeded Reservoir, 3-2, to advance. Mount Hebron then beat third-seeded James M. Bennett, 2-0, in the region semifinals to earn a shot at top-seeded Decatur in the region finals with a trip to the state’s Final Four on the line.
Against Decatur on Tuesday, Mount Hebron got on the board first with a goal just under 10 minutes into the game. After a throw-in deep into the Decatur box, Seahawk keeper Dan Cericola made a great diving save on a shot, but the ball caromed to a Mount Hebron player who hammered it into the upper right corner for an early 1-0 lead.
Nonetheless, the Decatur offense continued to apply pressure throughout the first half and had several opportunities to score either fly over the crossbar or just wide of the uprights. The Decatur pressure was relentless and it appeared it was only a matter of time before they broke through, but the shots found their mark and the first half ended with Mount Hebron leading, 1-0.
The second half played out much like the first with Decatur continuing to apply pressure on the Mount Hebron goal. However, the Vikings withstood the onslaught and started to steadily pull away from the Seahawks. The Vikings added a second goal with just over 20 minutes left in the game on a direct penalty kick after a hands call against Decatur. With just over 10 minutes remaining, the Vikings made it 3-0 and added a late goal to complete the 4-0 upset.