CUMBERLAND — After the long bus ride to the far reaches of western Maryland and a decidedly one-sided first half where they were outshot, 12-1, the Trojans remained steadfast in their state quarterfinal soccer match.
Kent closed to 2-1 on freshman Jace Conner’s goal in the 77th minute, but time was not the ally of the No. 6 seed.
Demetrius Hilton provided the insurance goal with less than 30 seconds to play in the 80-minute match for No. 3 seed Allegany, which netted its 13th win.
Kent finishes 7-6-1, the program’s first winning campaign in the 21st century.
We researched back to the year 2000, and stopped there.
The 2021 Kent team also distinguishes itself as the first in program history to be able to hang a region championship banner in the school gym.
“I am very proud of the boys and what they accomplished this season. They worked hard to improve individually and learned to play very well as a team,” Patrick Jones, finishing up his sixth year as head coach, told the Kent County News in an email.
He added, “It was a pleasure to watch them develop the confidence and patience to control the play in most of our matches leading to a region championship and the opportunity to represent KCHS in the state playoffs.”
Kent headed to Cumberland for the Class 1A state quarterfinal match Nov. 6 after having schooled St. Michaels, 4-0, in an East Region final on Nov. 2.
Allegany (13-4) was disciplined and moved the ball well.
While the Trojans were able to maintain possession early, they soon found themselves defending in their half.
“When we did win the ball, we started rushing passes in our effort to threaten offensively and were just off the mark for most of the match,” Jones said.
Kent’s best scoring chance in the first half was a through ball on the left side to Conner, who took it to the goal but couldn’t get off a shot before keeper Chase Gray slid in for the stop.
Allegany dented the scoreboard in the 7th minute when Macello Kitchen got in behind Kent’s defense and was able to pounce on a loose ball that he directed past Ronald Parker (seven saves).
What held up to be the winning goal came in the 35th minute. C.J. Crawford ran on to a long pass down the right side, beat a defender on the dribble and then tucked the ball inside the near post to make it 2-0.
Crawford did not fool Parker on a penalty kick awarded five minutes earlier for a foul in the box. Kent’s senior keeper guessed correctly and made a diving save to his right near the post.
Six-foot-three Jack Cullum’s header off a corner kick from Will Maier sailed over the crossbar on the Trojans’ first good scoring chance of the second half.
Conner, one of five freshmen on the Trojans’ 20-player roster, ended the shutout with 3 minutes, 8 seconds remaining on a play that started with Yahir Fernandez Ochoa heading the ball ahead.
Conner dribbled down the left side before tucking a shot that eluded Gray and slipped inside the far post.
Trying desperately to score the tying goal with little time remaining, the Trojans pushed up — which left them vulnerable defensively.
Hilton salted away the win with all but 29 seconds elapsed.
NOTE: Three-time state champion Brunswick defeated Allegany, 2-1, in the 1A semifinals to advance to this week’s title match against Fallston.