Not long after he was hired as the Damascus boys soccer coach in March, Stephen Pfeil had a conversation with his predecessor, Andre Wise. Wise informed Pfeil he believed this Swarming Hornets team had the ability to win a state championship, an achievement no Damascus boys soccer team had accomplished.
“It was that day I said, ‘okay, let me try to coach them to that level,’” said Pfeil, who won a state championship with Rockville’s Magruder Colonels in 2007. “So I had a sense of what we needed to do.”
On Thursday, Wise was proven correct.
In the Maryland 2A State Final at Loyola University Maryland, Damascus did not play its most visually pleasing soccer of the season against the Sykesville-based Century Knights. The Hornets took advantage of their opportunities and played strong defense in a 3-1 victory for the program’s first state championship.
“I’m almost 60-years-old and I have to say, this is one of the sweetest championships ever,” Pfeil said. “I’m just so proud of these kids.”
Damascus scored the lone goal of the opening half with 18 minutes left when junior Todd DiLeo beat the Century goalkeeper on a long ball lobbed into the box. DiLeo touched the ball around the closing goalkeeper as it was dropping to the ground and slid it in.
DiLeo scored a second goal, heading home a corner kick from senior Nick Weaver with 28 minutes remaining in the second half.
“It’s just a matter of how hard I can work and how much my teammates can help me,” said DiLeo. “To be honest, I wouldn’t have scored the two goals without my teammates. I give all the praise to them.”
Erik Rodriguez Torres went on a solo run on the left side, beating a defender, before cutting the ball back onto his right foot and sneaking it past the goalie on the near post, extending the Hornets lead to 3-0 with 20 minutes remaining.
The Knights ensured the Hornets’ goal was under siege for the rest of the game. With 18 minutes remaining, Century took advantage of a ball that ricocheted around the box to notch a goal back. It was the only tally the Hornets allowed in what Pfeil described as an “onslaught.”
Ty Washington was credited with five saves on the night, but “looked like he was all over the place,” said Pfeil. With his team only up 1-0, the sophomore made a reaction save on a shot from six yards out.
Prior to its run to the 2A state championship, Damascus, one of the smallest schools in Montgomery County with less than 1,400 students, emerged victorious in the county championships. The Hornets conclude their season with a record of 16-2 and the state championship Pfeil aimed to win.
“The second half was a grind,” said Pfeil. “When you coach a team like that, that has the potential to outplay a lot of teams, and then on a day when it can’t, still are able to grind and get a result, it’s very, very sweet.”
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