McDonogh and St. Mary’s Advance to Friday’s MIAA Championship; IAC Semifinals Preview

combine_imagesIn a tale of two halves, the top-seeded McDonogh Eagles were fueled by a massive third quarter run en route to a decisive 13-7 victory over Boys’ Latin to move on to Friday night’s MIAA championship game.

Having lost in the semifinal round in several of the past years and lacking a championship appearance since 2005, this year’s edition of the Eagles got the monkey off of their back in a major way, also avenging a loss to the Lakers from the regular season.

“It’s been a long time coming for us, we’ve struggled against Boys’ Latin in the past and hadn’t beaten them since 2011,” head coach Andy Hilgartner said after the game. “To win over a program like that is pretty amazing and my relationship with Coach Shriver is a special one, one that I value a lot… to beat him in his last game, I don’t know how I feel, I kind of have mixed emotions about that. But he’s gotten plenty of wins against me. It’s more about the kids, and it was time for our guys today.”

McDonogh was forced to play a ton of defense in the first half after losing all but one face-off, but made a change at the break (where it was tied 4-4) and started to turn the tide. Senior Mike Smith, a standout Navy-bound wrestler in the 220-pound division, is entirely new to the position but won six face-offs in the second half with the help of his wings to propel the Eagles. That sort of advantage took the strain off of the McDonogh defense, allowing the offense to rally and take better possessions.

As it’s been all year, it was a balanced team effort for the Eagles, who held BL to their lowest offensive output since the Lakers’ season opener. Loyola signee Jacob Stover corralled nine saves while the defense clamped down on BL’s high octane attack. In particular, fleet-flooted freshman BJ Farrare held Under Armour All-American attackman Patrick Spencer (Loyola) to just a goal in the second quarter. On the offensive end, senior leaders Robby Black (Penn State) and Robert Clark (Georgetown) paved the way with three scores each. Seven other players contributed goals for Hilgartner’s Eagles.

The third quarter flurry, of course, was ultimately the difference maker. After giving up the first goal of the second half, the Eagles held BL scoreless while pumping in six goals in about six minutes.

“We started to get groundballs in the third quarter and had possessions where our offense did a great job of staying patient, moving the ball and finding the openings to bury a lot of shots,” Hilgartner said. “I credit our offense for possessing and that enabled our defense to be fresh. Once we were fresh, they were able to play a little bit more and slid and protected much better.”

As the clock ticked down, so too did the career of legendary Boys’ Latin head coach Bob Shriver, who is retiring after 36 years with a 507-139 record and six championships.

“I’m just disappointed of losing today. I guess maybe tonight sometime I’ll reflect that that was the last time I stand on the sidelines, but we really wanted to win the game. The kids wanted to win the game, so that was our whole focus,” said Shriver, who will see former standout Brian Farrell take over the reigns of the program. “It’s been a joyful ride. I’m as lucky as anybody that you could possibly imagine. I coached at a great school, a lot of great kids and we had a lot of great moments. We’ve won some great lacrosse games, so there’s nothing but joy walking off the field today.”

Boys’ Latin finishes with a 15-5 record, while the McDonogh Eagles pushed their record to 14-4 and will search for the program’s third title on Friday night. The Eagles won their previous matchup against St. Mary’s 9-6 back on April 17th.

McD scoring: Robby Black 3g, Robert Clark 3g, Barrett Sutley 1g/1a, Jackson Morrill 1g/1a, Connor Young 1g/1a, Blake Gray 1g, Rich Dion 1g, Justin Wittfelt 1g, Jack Kemp 1g, Noah McCoy 1a; Jacob Stover – 9 saves
BL scoring: Devin Shewell 3g, Patrick Spencer 1g, Logan Wisnauskas 1g, Jake Glatz 1g, Greg Ey 1g, Matt Brandau 1a, Rocco Bruno 1a, Luke Shilling 1a; Jack Pezzulla – 3 saves

St. Mary’s downs St. Paul’s 9-5 in second MIAA ‘A’ semifinal

Thriving in all facets and receiving a massive 16-save performance from senior goalie Timmy Troutner, St. Mary’s picked up a 9-5 victory over St. Paul’s and will play in Friday’s MIAA final for the first time since 2003. Their last championship win came during 1996’s undefeated season.

Head coach Ben Rubeor had excellent showings from his seniors at every position. Veteran close defensemen Bryce Carrasco (Loyola), Tommy Miller (Navy) and Hunter Smith (Maryland), as well as LSM Kevin Fox (Penn State) and shortstick Davis Williams, were monumental in holding the otherwise potent Crusader offense to just five goals on the night for their lowest total of the year. Athletic junior Kane Randolph (Penn State) teamed up with Fox to hold SP’s touted lefty shooter Alex McGovern (UNC) to one goal on one shot.

The Crusaders were without a goal until Carter Flaig found the net midway through the second quarter and didn’t score again until a Joe Pollard finish with three seconds left. In the first half, the Saints made St. Paul’s play their way, dictating the tempo and totally controlling opening play with efficient offense and Troutner’s stellar play backstopping a senior-heavy backline. With future coaches Jon Torpey and Pat Tracy present, Troutner finalized a commitment to play at High Point next year.

“I thought Troutner in cage played a fantastic game with some very, very big saves,” St. Mary’s coach Ben Rubeor said afterwards. “Not only saves, the kid makes plays out of the cage, he intercepts passes. Any ball around the crease he seems to come away with.”

Offense was provided by multiple sources, namely outside-shooting senior Nick Boyles (Wash. College) and touted junior Jake Carraway (Georgetown), as both contributed hat tricks. UMBC-bound senior Jack Andrews pitched in two goals and an assist, Bennett Johnson had a goal and freshman attackman Sean Mooney turned in a great two-assist performance.

The win represents just far the Saints have come since beginning the year with a nine-goal loss at Landon then getting caught off guard a month later with a 18-8 drubbing at Gilman just two weeks ago.

“That loss to Gilman – we had a long talk after that game and basically asked them whether they really wanted to commit to this thing or if they just wanted to have fun for the rest of the season,” said Rubeor, finishing up his third year at the Annapolis school. “Those boys made a decision to commit to this thing and really put everything into it and I think that’s been part of the reason we’ve turned things around.”

St. Mary’s did a remarkable job pressuring SP’s offensive weapons and thanks to Woodall’s work at the face-off X, were able to disrupt the Crusaders from getting into any rhythm. St. Paul’s finished the night shooting just 5-for-36, stymied by a pair of eight-save halves from Troutner. On Friday, the defense will have another tough task of stopping McDonogh’s well-balanced offense.

“Those defensemen, we lean on them a lot and I think they have the biggest challenge  the year on Friday because McDonogh is a team offense,” said Rubeor. “It’s not like you’re covering one guy so we have to make sure we prepare for them and come out ready to play.”

SM scoring: Jake Carraway 3g, Nick Boyles 3g, Jack Andrews 2g/1a, Bennett Johnson 1g, Sean Adrew’s 2a, Griffin Giles 1a, Timmy Hardy 1a, Alex Woodall 1a; Timmy Troutner – 9 saves
SP scoring: Joe Pollard 2g, Carter Flaig 2g, Mitch Gordon 1g/1a, Alex McGovern 1a, Jennings Schweizer 1a

IAC Semifinals Preview

In recent weeks, DC’s illustrious Interstate Athletic Conference has intensified, going from Landon’s title to lose to now being a relatively even four-horse race. There’s been more parity in the six-team conference than it has seen in several years, so Wednesday’s semifinals are much anticipated. The championship matchup will take place on Saturday afternoon on the campus of the higher seed.

#4 Bullis (Md.) at #1 Landon (Md.), 4:30pm 
Surpassing many external expectations and rising as high as No. 2 in national polls for a few weeks, the Landon Bears (18-2, 4-1 IAC) clinched a regular season championship and a coveted first-round bye. In their final regular season game, one that stretched over two days due to delays caused by lightning, the Bears beat Episcopal (Va.) 8-7 in double overtime after trailing 5-2 at the half. Cornell-bound attackman Colton Rupp completed his hat trick on the game-winning goal, taking an assist from sophomore face-off man Justin Shockey, who won 8-of-13 on the day. Landon has been awfully balanced throughout the year, though even more of the offense has been generated out of a lethal attack unit of Rupp, Buller and Epstein after a knee injury to standout junior middie Ryan Pride (Virginia) in an April win over Gonzaga. Senior JHU signee Hunter Sells is one of the nation’s best, playing behind a rangy and athletic defense that has made life difficult for opponents.

Under first year head coach Jeff Bellistri, the Bulldog program has taken another step forward in 2015, compiling a 14-4 so far, with their four losses coming to teams ranked in Recruiting Rundown’s Top 25. They’re led by Penn State signee Drew Petkevich (59g, 13a) at the midfield and a lethal attack of sophomore Alex Trippi (32g, 37a – UNC) and juniors Nicky Petkevich (43g, 16a – Colgate) and Steven Shollenberger (34g, 22a – Drexel). Face-off man Joseph Stein, a Bucknell-bound junior, will look to take pressure off of the defensive unit. Bullis has gone zone in many instances and will likely do so again on Wednesday afternoon, looking to avenge a narrow loss when the two rivals played in April.

#3 Georgetown Prep (Md.) at #2 St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Va.), 4:30pm
Heading into the year, Andy Taibl’s SSSA team wasn’t really looked at as one of the heavyweights in the IAC. In many cases, eyes may be directed towards a program’s amount of Division I commitments to make a judgment of how good a team is. The Saints, by my count, have just three but have made waves in greater DC, knocking off Prep and Landon on consecutive Fridays. They’re paced by a quartet of 20+ goal scorers in senior Drew Wiseman (Colorado College) and juniors Ben Martin (Lehigh), Wade Shervin and Matthew Fisher. In cage, uncommitted junior Sam Jones has been lights out as of late. The Saints have dropped their last two games, including a Tuesday contest against St. Anne’s Belfield in the Virginia private school quarterfinals, so they’ll be on short rest on Wednesday.

Georgetown Prep has been a force for much of the year despite a pair of overtime losses, gaining momentum in a week in late April where they knocked off Gonzaga and Bullis. Under interim head coach Charlie Horning, the Little Hoyas have won six of their last seven matchups, including a 14-3 win in the first round over Episcopal School. In cage, Joey Altemus (Bucknell) has done a great job making stops in his first and only year as starter, while face-off men Jack Olsen (Hopkins) and Bobby Hartwick (Dickinson) have controlled possession. Down low, junior Loyola commit John Railey has turned into one of the state’s best defensemen with groundball machine Finn Dunne (Georgetown) taking LSM duties. The offense has a bevy of different options, especially a first midfield line of David Lipka (Army), junior Terry Lindsay (Duke) and Olsen. Could a Prep-Landon rematch be looming?

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