A smothering defense and an offensive awakening equaled a trip to Stevenson University for Fallston High lacrosse Friday evening. The Cougar girls defeated Smithsburg from Washington County, 21-9, while the boys topped Smithsburg, 11-3, in a Class 1A state semifinal doubleheader at Wheaton in Montgomery County.
Lucas Hurlburt and Jon Swartzendruber led the way for Fallston boys, scoring three goals apiece. Gage McKenna chipped in two goals, while Quinn McLaughlin, Jack Baylin and Jacob MacMillan also scored.
But the standout performance for the Cougars was their defense, anchored at the back by Landon Mills. He made eight saves behind a stifling defense that didn’t allow many shots into Mills.
“Defensively we’re playing really strong right now,” Fallston coach Patrick Mull said. “I like how we’re playing physical. We’re playing composed, disciplined defense. We’re making it really difficult on the opponent.”
The Leopards didn’t score until the fourth quarter Friday. Hurlburt opened the scoring, followed by McLaughlin and Swartzendruber in the first quarter for the Cougars.
McKenna netted his two goals in the first three minutes of the second quarter, followed by Swartzendruber and Hurlburt’s second goals of the game to end the half for Fallston with a commanding 7-0 advantage.
“Anytime your defense is playing stout and tough, it allows your offense to kind of figure things out,” Mull said.
Fallston padded its lead in the second half, with more goals from Hurlburt and Swartzendruber, along with Baylin and MacMillian finding the back of the net. Smithsburg finally scored late in regulation on goals from Joshua Kalons (2) and Garrett Mazenko.
After ending Southern’s reign as 1A champions in Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Fallston is a win away from claiming the crown. The Cougars will play Perryville, which easily eliminated ACCE in the other semifinal at Bel Air.
“It’s good to continue to have that confidence,” Mull said.
In their biggest game to date, Fallston girls put together its best offensive showing as Ava Lambros scored seven goals, including two in the first minute of the game.
Ayla Galloway chipped in four goals, Delaney O’Mailey scored three, Sydney Grafton and Olivia Parker scored twice, Natalie Schromsky, Ally Schromsky and Laurel Haun scored a goal apiece.
“(Scoring early) sets a tone,” Fallston coach Maddie Palko said. “Which is always really great.”
The Cougars scored the first six goals of the game, before Madelyn Kesselring scored from a free-position and from free play within 25 seconds to pull the game to 6-2.
Fallston extended the lead to 9-2, before Kesselring, who finished with a game-high eight tallies, scored again. By halftime, it led 12-5. In the middle of any Cougar scoring run? Ava Lambros.
“I couldn’t really do it without my teammates,” Lambros said. “We all worked together on the attack.”
Fallston scored the first three goals coming out of halftime to start the running clock. Smithsburg scored thrice — with a Lambros goal in the middle — to cut the lead to 16-8, but Lambros and Parker scored back-to-back goals to restart the running clock.
The Cougars return to the state championship game for a third straight year. The Harford County school will rematch with Liberty, which routed Perryville, 19-1, in the other 1A state semifinal, played at Bel Air Friday evening.
The Lions defeated Fallston, 9-4, in last year’s final at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
“We know we need to come out with everything we got,” Palko said. “There’s no room for error.”
CLASS 1A STATE SEMIFINALS
FALLSTON GIRLS 21, SMITHSBURG 9
Fallston 12 9 — 21
Smithsburg 5 4 — 9
Goals: Fallston - Ava Lambros 7, Ayla Galloway 4, Delaney O’Mailley 3, Sydney Grafton 2, Olivia Parker 2, Natalie Schromsky, Ally Schromsky, Laurel Haun. Smithsburg - Madelyn Kesselring 8, Brianna Ellis.
Saves: Fallston - Cameron Rohner 3. Smithsburg - Kendra Wilkinson 13.
FALLSTON BOYS 11, SMITHSBURG 3
Fallston 3 4 2 2 — 11
Smithsburg 0 0 0 3 — 3
Goals: Fallston - Lucas Hurlburt 3, Jon Swartzendruber 3, Gage McKenna 2, Quinn McLaughlin, Jack Baylin, Jacob MacMillian. Smithsburg - Joshua Kalons 2, Garrett Mazenko.
Saves: Fallston - Landon Mills 8. Smithsburg - Zachary von Garel 13.