The Broadneck Bruins were nearly perfect during the fall 2021 season, but despite being nearly perfect, they fell just short of achieving their ultimate goal.
The Walt Whitman Vikings beat the Bruins 2-1 on November 20 in the 4A MPSSAA girls soccer championship. The game at Loyola University marked the fourth and fifth state tournament appearances for the Bruins and Vikings, respectively. Both teams had impressive records. The Bruins had an undefeated season until the final game with a record of 17-0-1 and the Vikings had a strong record of their own, 14-2-1.
The game was evenly matched at the outset, with both teams showing agility and aggression, but momentum shifted in Walt Whitman’s favor after the Vikings scored an early goal.
“The first five or 10 minutes, we always want to score that first goal because that’s how we play,” said Walt Whitman senior forward Delaney DeMartino
In the seventh minute, freshman defender Evelyn Javers sent a through ball upfield to sophomore forward Gemma Davitian. Davitian’s shot to the bottom right corner of the goal was outside the reach of Broadneck senior goalkeeper Mason Smargissi, and the Vikings went up 1-0.
“I don’t remember much,” Davitian said. “I took one touch. I didn’t even look at the goal. I had no idea where the goalkeeper was or anything. I just kicked it and then I heard everybody go crazy.”
Both teams had a series of corner kicks and drives downfield. Neither was able to find the back of the net for the rest of the first half, but Walt Whitman came close in the 31st minute. A shot by Delaney DeMartino hit the top right corner of the goal post. The ball deflected to the feet of her sister, sophomore forward Riley DeMartino, who shot the ball over the net. The play was an omen for the persistent offensive attacks Broadneck’s defense would face in the second half.
“Honestly, first half we were a little bit flat. Our shape could have been better,” said Broadneck senior defender Carly Johnston. “I think after halftime, we came together and we were able to hold the line, but they would catch us on these breaks and they capitalized.”
In the 55th minute of the game, Walt Whitman nearly scored again, putting together a string of passes similar to the play that preceded their first goal. A through ball to Riley DeMartino left her one-on-one with Smargissi, but Smargissi ran out and grabbed the ball from DeMartino to end the scoring opportunity.
Pressure from the Vikings continued, and they scored their second goal of the night in the 58th minute. A direct kick sent players charging into the penalty box. Walt Whitman’s Javers was able to gain possession, control the ball, and send it into the bottom left corner of the goal.
“Everyone was around the ball. I knew I had a good pass right to the goal and it did end up poking out, so I got the goal, and it was really exciting,” Javers said. “I was really nervous for a second that it wasn’t going to go in, but it did.”
The Bruins also took a hit in the 61st minute when team captain and season leading goal-scorer Éva Mowery went down with a knee injury. Mowery needed help getting off the field and did not return for the rest of the game. She later reported feeling her knee shift and hearing a crack.
Being down was uncommon for the Bruins, but not unheard of. In an away game against Crofton High School on September 21, Broadneck trailed by two points, but ended up tying their game 2-2.
“In Crofton, it was our first time really being down and we kind of lost hope,” junior defender Lilly Kelley said. “We didn’t know how to fight. As the season went on, we had harder games, and as a team we learned how to keep going and not lose hope.”
Although down 2-0 in the 4A championship, Broadneck would not quit. Junior forward Sadie Wilkinson gave the Bruins a fighting chance with a goal in the 76th minute. In a solo effort, Wilkinson beat several defenders with her speed and footwork, giving herself space to shoot a ball over the head of junior goalkeeper Sophia Mays.
“When I scored, we felt more motivated and we felt that we could actually get back into it,” Wilkinson said. “Those minutes after, we were trying really hard to get that tying goal.”
With four minutes left in the game, Broadneck’s intensity and energy increased, demonstrating the grit of the team that was instilled in them the moment they became Bruin soccer players.
“They’ve just got that fighting mentality,” Broadneck head coach John Camm said. “It’s the mindset of the group. It’s the culture of the program, and these kids have embraced it and they’ve actually expanded on it.”
Unlike the Crofton game and despite renewed vitality, the Bruins were unable to tie the score and the Vikings left Loyola University as state champions.
The loss marks a sad end to an impressive season for Broadneck, but the Bruins are proud of their work nonetheless.
“When things weren’t always going our way tonight, we still hung in there, still fought, still played right down to the end, created some chances, got a really nice goal at the end,” Camm said. “Just a tough way to wrap up the season.”
Mowery was proud of how everyone played, and she said every player has grown “mentally and skill-wise.”
“From the start, our goal was to get to states and be able to play here at Loyola and I think we just kept that same mentality through the whole season,” Mowery said. “We worked hard every practice, every game, and I think it paid off.”