Fallston boys lacrosse goalie Landon Mills fills up the goal in more ways than one.
At 6-foot-1 and 270 pounds, the junior is an imposing figure between the pipes for the Cougars.
On Wednesday in a 10-5 Class 1A state quarterfinal victory over Southern-AA, Mills came up big against all of the Bulldog shooters — with the obvious exception of junior attackman Jordan Fanzo, who netted all five of the visitors’ goals.
Mills made a game-best 12 saves, including five in the second quarter when Southern’s offense was cranking shot after shot at Mills and getting nowhere while attempting to recover from a 4-1 deficit.
“(Mills) made a couple of good saves and we hit him a couple of times,” Southern coach Brendan Brace said. “If a couple of those shots fall for us, it’s a different game.”
Considering that Southern defeated Fallston in last year’s 1A state championship game, 14-7, Mills was pleased to be part of the pay-back.
“I really wanted to keep the momentum going,” Mills said. “Because in games like this, big games, they score a few, they get hyped, and those goals keep coming. So I was really determined to make those saves. I knew what was coming — a lot of them were really high shooters. We watched a lot of film and we were ready for them.”
Naturally, Fallston coach Patrick Mull was enamored with his goalie’s play.
“He was unbelievable,” he said. “In my opinion, he was the difference in the game. He’s quick, nimble and has great hand-eye (coordination), which you need to be a goalie. He’s played unbelievable all year — and today was no different. Landon was huge — and he’s a big boy, too.”
Goals by sophomore midfielder Ian Swartzendruber, junior attackman Quinn McLaughlin, senior attackman Lucas Hurlburt and junior midfielder Gage McKenna staked the Cougars (14-3) to the early 4-1 advantage.
The alert Fanzon rifled in a rebound to cut the deficit in half with just over six minutes left in the first half before Hurlburt, McLaughlin and Swartzendruber struck again to give Fallston a comfortable 7-2 halftime bulge.
After junior attackman Greg Hoer made it, 8-2, early in the third quarter, Fanzo notched his third goal on a feed from junior attackman Carter Moon.
Hurlburt converted a nice look from junior midfielder Nick Nikola to push the lead up to 9-3 entering the final period, making a Bulldog comeback improbable despite a pair of Fanzo goals to open the frame.
“He is a very good player,” Mills acknowledged about Fanzo. “And very shifty, too.”
Southern (11-4) managed one long possession in the quarter, and with Fanzo getting medical assistance for an eye issue, the offense stalled without him on the field.
Swartzendruber’s empty-netter in the final minute sealed the deal and sent Fallston to the semifinal round against the Liberty-Smithsburg winner on Friday.
“We did the best we could,” Mull said when asked what alignment the Cougars employed to shut down all the Bulldogs other than Fanzo. “Their attack is stellar, but our guts played a helluva game.”
CLASS 1A BOYS LACROSSE STATE QUARTERFINAL
FALLSTON 10, SOUTHERN-AA 5
Southern 1 1 1 2 — 5
Fallston 4 3 2 1 — 10
Goals: S-Jordan Fanzo 5; F-Ian Swartzendruber 3, Lucas Hurlburt 2, Quinn McLaughlin 2, Greg Hoer 2, Gage McKenna.
Assists: S-Carter Moon; F-Jacob MacMillan 3, Quinn McLaughlin 2, Nick Nikola 2.
Saves: S-Xavier Wilson 6; F-Landon Mills 12.