NEWCASTLE — Mount St. Mary's Connor Hartzell admits he lost focus near the end of the last soccer season, when the Rockets lost in the championship game.
His head was fully in the game Saturday.
A cross kick bounced off the top of the goal and directly to Hartzell's head, and the sophomore scored on a header with 1:44 left in overtime to give the Rockets a 2-1 win over No. 1 Santa Fe South and the Class 4A state championship.
“I had to keep my composure,” Hartzell said of seeing the ball come toward him. “Once it was in the goal, then it was time to celebrate.”
Grades and injuries cost Hartzell the chance to play in last year's playoffs as a freshman.
“I had to sit and watch my team from the sideline,” Hartzell said. “As soon as the game ended last year, I knew we had to start training for this year. No distractions.
“Last year hurt, but I've come full circle.”
Ditto for the Rockets' soccer program in four seasons under coach Francois Boda. His first season, Mount St. Mary was 1-9 and lost 10-0 in a mercy-rule game to Santa Fe South.
“(Santa Fe South) showed us how far we have to come to win a state championship,” said senior Joe Naugle, who was a freshman that year.