The tension between a lacrosse goalie and an opposing shooter was on full display in the final seconds of the Class 3A boys lacrosse state title game between No. 11 Severna Park and 14th-ranked Mount Hebron on Thursday night at Stevenson University’s Mustang Stadium.
With the 11-time state champs from Anne Arundel County clutching a 9-8 advantage, junior midfielder Maverick Smith was on the prowl, dodging and feinting in an effort to get his hands free to unleash a shot that would knot the score and send the game into overtime.
Severna Park’s Ashby Shepherd said that’s when he locked eyes with Smith.
“They had been down a couple of goals, and then they put some good shots on goal,” Shepherd said. “You know as a goalie that it’s all on you, that you’re the one standing between (a win or overtime). As soon as he brought the stick forward, I knew I had to save that one.”
Smith’s shot, Shepherd said, hit his stick before nicking the post and rolling out of bounds, giving the Vikings scant time to produce the equalizer.
After a scramble for possession and some nifty work by Severna Park senior defenseman Talan Livingston, the Falcons (16-4 overall) could celebrate the 9-8 triumph and program’s state-record 12th championship.
The victory was hard-fought to the end, much different from Severna Park’s 13-8 win in late March over Mount Hebron.
“Their offense was killer,” said Severna Park sophomore attackman Jack Fish, who paced the Falcons with three goals. “They never stopped.”
It certainly seemed that way to Shepherd when the Vikings put together a 4-0 run bridging the second and third periods to overcome a 5-2 deficit and take a 6-5 advantage.
Smith struck first in the sequence with 1:09 left in the opening half before junior midfielder Kyle Ratta followed suit 35 seconds later.
Junior midfielder Keegan Ryan knotted the score with 9:41 left in the third quarter and junior attackman Cooper Stockenberg gave the Vikings (13-6) their only lead of the contest less than two minutes after the deadlock.
It took the Falcons only a little over two minutes to draw even on senior attackman Alex Stroble’s tally assisted by junior midfielder Tyler Moran.
Fish converted a Stroble feed to put Severna Park up for good with three minutes left in the period on the first of two full-serve penalties that would plague Mount Hebron late in the game.
An illegal stick penalty gave the Falcons another EMO and Fish again finished a feed, this time from junior midfielder Nolan Grizzle for an 8-6 cushion that stood until Sullivan and Grizzle’s strong ride resulted in Sullivan’s goal with 5:50 left.
The Vikings, though, fought through their travails and answered with Ryan and Smith beating Shepherd to pull within, 9-8, with 1:03 to go and an extra session looming.
Mount Hebron Mike McCarthy.said that his team’s effort was “fantastic,” despite another setback in a rematch of last year’s title clash.
“Our kids kept getting behind the eight-ball,” he said, alluding to the pair of major penalties and as many disallowed goals during the fierce battle. “Our kids aren’t scared of anyone. We came in thinking we were going to win. I love our team, I love our kids, and I will support them anywhere or anytime. They deserved better tonight.”
Senior attackman Rich Tangires said that the Vikings did things that they didn’t normally do during the season
“But there is zero quit in this team,” he concluded.
Severna Park coach Dave Earl said that the Falcons were girding for Mount Hebron’s final push.
“We got a great slide in the last couple of minutes, and a great double to turn the ball over,” he said. “No. 25 (Smith), 3 (Ryan) or 2 (Stockenberg), pick your poison. Those are all really excellent, high-level lacrosse players.”
He added that this year’s edition of the dynasty is “a little exrta-special” because of its youth, even though the defense boasted plenty of experience.
“Offensively, we graduated all of our attack and most of our midfield,” he said. “Going into the year, we kind of had to figure out what we were going to be. Throughout the year we continued to refine things. I think moving Jack (Fish) to attack was a great thing. We approach it the same way. Every day is about getting better in practice. We’re not thinking ahead.”
CLASS 3A BOYS LACROSSE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Stevenson University
NO. 11 SEVERNA PARK 9, NO. 14 MOUNT HEBRON 8
Mount Hebron 0 4 2 2 — 8
Severna Park 2 3 2 2 — 9
Goals: MH-Keegan Ryan 4, Maverick Smith 2, Tucker Moran, Cooper Stockenberg, Kyle Ratta; SP-Jack Fish 3, John Burkhardt 2, Tim Sullivan 2, Tucker Moran, Alex Stroble.
Assists: MH-Rich Tangires 3, Maverick Smith; SP-Alex Stroble 3, Nolan Grizzle 2, Tucker Moran.
Saves: MH-Luca LeClair 10; SP-Ashby Shepherd 8.