CUMBERLAND — The Mountain Ridge Miners boys soccer program is back in the state semifinals for the second time in as many years. Today, they try to get over the hump and reach a place it hasn’t been since 2011.

Standing in the way is the Crisfield Crabbers, of Crisfield, which is located about 40 minutes south of Salisbury. The Miners (13-2) and Crabbers (11-3-1) meet today, 2:30 p.m., at Northeast High School in Pasadena for a trip to the state championship game.

“This team has a ‘business as usual’ attitude,” said Miners head coach Tim Nightengale. “They don’t get overly amped up and they just go out and play. We’re working on having a sharp week of practice to prepare for Crisfield.

“They have an experienced team with 12 seniors back from last year’s team that lost in the region final to eventual state champion Patterson Mill 3-1. They have been scoring a lot of goals in the playoffs. We’re excited for the opportunity to compete in the state semifinals again and working to play our best game on Saturday. Our fans have been so supportive throughout the year and we appreciate that greatly. We expect to have a great following in Pasadena.”

Mountain Ridge entered the playoffs on a three-game win streak, nabbing a gritty victory against Southern, 3-1, in the Class 1A West Region I semifinal. It’s next two wins came in different fashions.

In the West Region I championship game, Brady Weimer scored off a feed from Jacob Ritchie in the first minute of the game as the Miners defeated Fort Hill, 1-0. Three days later, Mountain Ridge dominated St. Michael’s, but found itself going into overtime tied 1-1 after a misplayed clearance resulted in a 40-yard goal for St. Michael’s. Ritchie called “game” in the second sudden-death overtime period when he headed a corner kick, served up by Mason Reed, into the top left corner, propelling the Miners back to the state tournament.

Ritchie leads Mountain Ridge with team-highs in goals and assists with 14 and 10, respectively. Weimer has 10 goals and seven assists.

Logan Kiddy is third with six goals and a pair of assists. Joey Oyer has four goals, including one in the Southern playoff win. Reed has three goals and two assists, Justus LePrevost three goals and one assist, and Hunter Durst three goals.

Sean Kline has two goals — one against Southern and the other a long shot opening goal against St. Michael’s — to go with two assists.

Drake Clark has a goal and two assists, Brayden Bowman and Andrew Smith have a goal and an assist apiece, Sam Rose has one goal and Jack Weston has an assist.

Sophomore goalie Eathan Ashenfelter has 10 shutouts with 44 saves on 61 shots.

The Crabbers, the 1A East Region II winner as the No. 2 seed, is coming off of a 5-0 win over McDonough in the state quarterfinal. Crisfield opened the playoffs defeating Washington 7-0 in the region quarterfinal then beat North Dorchester 3-0 in the region semifinal before taking the region title with a 1-0 win over top-seeded Pocomoke.

After the eight region winners were decided and the teams re-seeded, the Crabbers came out as the third seed with the Miners at No. 2. Undefeated International High School at Langley Park (12-0) is the top seed and played 1A West Region II winner Francis Scott Key Friday night in the other semifinal.

Crisfield’s last state tournament appearance came in 2015, when it defeated Allegany 2-1 before falling to North Carroll, 3-1 in the championship game. The Crabbers’ lone state title came in 1977.

Mountain Ridge, meanwhile, searches for its third state championship since the school opened its doors in 2007.

The Miners are making their fifth state tournament appearance, with state titles in 2010 and 2011 and semifinal appearances in 2009 and 2018.

Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter at Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call/text 304-639-0133, email kbennett@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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