Boys Soccer: Knights playoff experience could be deciding factor vs. Catoctin

By Dylan O'Toole, Sports Editor

The Middletown High School boys soccer team has had an unexpected resurgence over the past two seasons. After drowning in mediocrity in the recent past, last season the Knights made a deep playoff run. This season even more could be in store.

Tonight at 5 pm the Knights begin their playoff journey against Catoctin at home. The Knights, sporting a record of 10-3-1, are the number two seed in 2A West Section I.

The Knights are led by junior midfielder Jonathan Tatem, whose blend of skill and sheer athleticism out of the midfield is crucial to the Knights high scoring offense.

The Knights finished the season on a three-game win streak, and outscored their opponents 7-1 in those games.

“We did a great job of scoring goals over these past few games,” said Knights junior midfielder Clay Smith. “We know we can create a lot of opportunities.”

The Knights know that scoring isn’t the only thing that leads to victories, defense is just as important. The defense is anchored by senior Marshall Truitt, in his second season as a starter, in the middle.

“We know our defense is solid,” said Tatem. “We work together as a team well.”

The Cougars come into the game 2-10-1, a far cry from the record the Knights have put up, but anything can happen on any given night.

“We now that Catoctin can be a dangerous team,” said Smith. “They beat a team like South Carroll, which was one of our toughest opponents this season.”

One major advantage that the Knights do have is the experience that their players have in the playoffs.

Last season, Tatem and Smith both went through the Knights entire playoff run as starters.

“If anything goes wrong we can’t panic,” said Smith. “We went through a lot of adversity last year in the playoffs.”

The adversity Smith is referring to occurred when the Knights traveled to Frostburg to take on Mountain Ridge. The Knights got down 1-0 early in a hostile environment, but three goals in the second half propelled the Knights to a victory.

“We just have to keep our composure,” said Tatem. “We know we’re going to have a lot of chances to score, we just have to capitalize.”

The Knights have the talent to take down a team like Catoctin; the key is staying focused and not making any assumptions.

“We can’t let our head get big, and we just have to stay focused the whole game,” said Smith. “We know we can beat anybody.”