PERRYVILLE — The thought of defeat did not phase Perryville goalkeeper Finnegan Tome in the final minutes of Friday’s Class 1A state quarterfinal.
Tome’s pair of saves with less than three minutes remaining against Pocomoke lifted Perryville to a 4-3 win and a berth in the state semifinals. Tome’s first of two stops came from a glove save in front of the net, followed by a save off a Warriors corner in the 87th minute.
“I needed to make that save and just made it,” Tome said.
The Perryville goalkeeper credited defenders Ty Stiffler and Paytn Hulbert for smothering Pocomoke opportunities before the Warriors could put more shots on net.
“I’m just thinking, ‘get this ball out,’” Stiffler said.
Hulbert echoed Stiffler, adding the butterflies were real as he looked to close out the game with a victory.
“I couldn’t think straight and when the ball got into the box I just knew I had to get it out,” Hulbert said.
Tome finished with eight saves on 12 Pocomoke shots, five coming in the first half of play. The fall season marks the first year with Tome serving as Perryville’s starting keeper.
Panthers Head Coach Chris Tome could not be prouder of his goalkeeper.
“He stepped in there to take the role and he’s taking it seriously and he’s worked super hard,” Chris Tome said. “The best thing is those boys see the way he throws himself at balls in training every day.”
“It’s a big part of his success, the fact that the team is behind him.”
The final stand by Perryville came after the Panthers got out to a fast start. Goals by Anthony Thomson and Evan Beynon in the first ten minutes catapulted the Panthers to a 2-0 advantage.
A Warriors goal off a free kick cut Perryville’s lead to one with 23:35 remaining in the first half. Less than thirty seconds later, Pocomoke tied the game on a shot in front of Tome to eliminate its deficit.
“[Finnegan] thought Paytn was going to go up to win it, so he stayed on his line and then when the ball bounced and it got over their head and bounced, [Finnegan] said it was too late,” Chris Tome said of the first Warriors goal. “Their second goal was just scrappy, a bit nerve wracking to say the least.”
Perryville responded with two more goals in the first half, including a goal from Hulbert that put the Panthers back in drivers seat in the 25th minute. Dylan Sayer capitalized on a penalty kick to give Perryville its second two goal lead.
“Once we were tied, we started pushing up corners, throw-ins, we started pushing the opposite guy forward,” Hulbert said. “We tried to make goal scoring opportunities and that’s what happened.”
The state semifinal appearance is the first for the boys soccer program since 1989. The Panthers’ head coach said he wanted to dedicate this win to his seniors, with the match the final home game of the year, regardless of outcome.
“It’s kind of monumental for these players,” Tome said. “It was huge for [the seniors] and we’re just excited to go to the next round.”
Stiffler, a senior, endured an unusual COVID season and never made it past the first round of regionals in his first three years with the program.
That all changed with one victory.
“It’s something new,” Stiffler said. “But it’s exciting and nothing I wouldn’t rather be doing with this team.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated the state semifinals appearance is the first in school history for boys soccer. This story has been updated to accurately reflect the last time Perryville reached the state semifinals in 1989.