In a complete team effort at home against a fellow top 10 team, No. 8 McDonogh (Md.) used a 5-0 run in the second quarter to create a distinct advantage, eventually topping top-ranked Gonzaga (D.C.) in a 13-11 decision.
When Gonzaga’s Luke McCaleb scored just 12 seconds in after a groundball off the wing by Ridge Slater, it may have appeared as though things would go the Purple Eagles’ way. Once the game was tied 3-3 midway through the second quarter, however, it was all orange and black.
A three-minute non-releasable penalty was called on Gonzaga when face-off man Nick McEvoy trucked Eagles junior midfielder Danny O’Connell while going for the ball, silencing the crowd and stopping play to tend to his head injury. McDonogh’s EMO unit would quickly reel off three goals (before adding another after the penalty expired) to take a comfortable 7-3 lead into the half.
“Once one of our starting d-middies went down, that kind of us pumped up,” said Georgetown signee Robert Clark, who pumped in three goals and two assists on Sunday. “We don’t like seeing our players get hurt but we weren’t going to come back chippy and play their lacrosse, we were going to play ours. We kept the pedal to the metal to score as many times as we could with ball movement and great defense.”
The Eagles’ starting defense – consisting of sophomore LSM Zeke Narcise (Duke), junior Arman Medghalchi (Princeton), sophomore Brandon Shure (Hopkins) and speedy freshman B.J. Farrare – was excellent, making life a bit easier for Jacob Stover in between the pipes. Headed to Loyola in the fall, Stover collected 10 saves on the day and had success in the clearing game to ultimately fuel the Eagles’ offense, which played a relatively deliberate pace to defeat the nation’s No. 1 team.
A Gonzaga slash at the end of the first half gave McDonogh the ball to begin the third, with uncommitted sophomore shooter Jack Parr (three goals) tallying at the 11:30 mark to push the lead to 8-3. Gonzaga did their best to claw back, getting their deficit to 9-6 nearly midway through the third quarter, but the Eagles’ unselfish and balanced offense continued to thrive. Clark’s two scores and a long-range bomb from classmate Blake Gray would give them a commanding 12-6 lead heading into the final quarter.
Though the Purple Eagles controlled 17 of 27 face-offs, including all five to begin the game, McDonogh junior Noah McCoy did a great job at the X especially at key moments. Last year’s starting FOGO, senior standout Jordy Elardo (Bucknell), has been sidelined all month with a lower body injury and is expected to return at some point, but McCoy and his wings were up to the task against a tough and athlettic Gonzaga face-off crew.
With all of the offensive firepower that they possess, it was rather inevitable that the Purple Eagles would climb back, and they did, making for an exciting second half in front of a large crowd. Though Gonzaga scored four fourth quarter goals, the deficit created by the second quarter penalty was ultimately too much to overcome.
To McDonogh head coach Andy Hilgartner, it was a win that meant a lot to everybody involved.
“It’s a huge, huge win for our program,” Hilgartner said of the win. “Gonzaga has built one of the best programs in the country year in and year out so whatever the rankings are, we knew the reputation of the team, the talent they have and their coaching – to get a win against them is big… It really feels good for our program – we’re just starting to build something, especially at the defensive end, where a lot of people stepped up today.”
The MIAA has been touted by many as wide open in 2015, but McDonogh clearly becomes the team to beat, and they’ll receive a big promotion in Tuesday’s upcoming rankings. Last week’s Top 25 can be seen here.
The Eagles’ road the rest of the month doesn’t get any easier. They’ll have Culver Academy (Ind.) on Thursday, Philly’s Episcopal Academy (the team that upset No. 5 Culver on Saturday) and IMG Academy (Fla.) before the month ends.
McDonogh scoring: Robert Clark 3g/2a, Jack Parr 3g, Connor Young 2g, Blake Gray 2g, Robby Black 1g/2a, Justin Wittfelt 1g, Jack Kemp 1g, Jackson Morrill 2a
Gonzaga scoring: Timmy Monahan 4g, Luke McCaleb 3g/2a, Michael Stanton 2g, Sam Offutt 1g/1a, Ridge Slater 1g/1a, Avery Myers 2a, Will Rock 1a,
Saves: Gonzaga’s George Christopher 4, McDonogh’s Jacob Stover 10
The game can be viewed in its entirety below, with commentary done by Booker Corrigan and myself: