The Westminster boys' lacrosse team had never won a state lacrosse title. In the first 15 minutes of Wednesday's Class 4A/3A championship game, the Owls did everything to ensure that the title drought would end.
Westminster scored the first seven goals of the game against Anne Arundel County power South River.
In the end, it wasn't enough, as the Seahawks utilized a furious rally to preserve their undefeated season and win the school's second state championship in four years by a 10-8 score at UMBC Stadium.
Sparked by junior Travis Wunder's dominance in the faceoff circle, the Owls looked unbeatable in the early stages. Jesse Uhlman, Dan Carder and Mike Kibler scored three goals in a 30-second span to give Westminster an early lead, and the Owls continued to build the margin.
Leading by five goals after one quarter, Westminster extended its advantage to 7-0 on Kibler's second score of the game with 8:20 left in the second quarter.
But the Seahawks, who finished with a 20-0 record, staged a remarkable comeback to deny Westminster statewide glory.
Senior attackman Tyler White started the comeback with an unassisted goal at the 4:30 mark of the second quarter. Chris Carr, Jon Carr and Matthew Gaskins scored in rapid succession to cut Westminster's lead to 7-4 at the half.
Junior attackman Ben Chisolm's first goal narrowed the gap to 7-5. Seahawks goalie Nick Marcelino, whose standout performance included 19 saves, gave South River more momentum when he stopped four straight Westminster shots.
A Chris Carr goal at 6:47 made it a one-goal game, and South River tied it when DJ Davis scored three minutes later.
The Seahawks took their first lead on Lavon Chaney's unassisted goal, but Westminster knotted it 37 seconds later when junior midfielder Nick McDonough scored the Owls' only goal of the second half.
Marcelino and the Seahawks close defense stymied Westminster for the remainder of the game, and senior midfielder Michael Strange gave South River a one-goal lead with just eight seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Chisolm's second goal with 6:51 left in the final quarter completed the amazing Seahawks run.
The game was halted with 2:33 left by a lengthy lightning storm and heavy rain. After a delay of nearly two hours, South River closed out the victory.
"From March 1st to where they are today, they've come an extremely long way," said Westminster head coach Steve DeFeo of his team, which beat Churchill in the state semifinals. "Tonight, we just weren't as patient as we needed to be, and we knew that seven goals weren't going to be enough against (South River)."
Westminster, making its first appearance in the championship game since 2004, finished with a 16-3 mark. McDonough led the Owl attack with three goals and one assist, while Uhlman contributed two goals and two feeds. Kibler also had a two-goal game for Westminster.
South River 10, Westminster 8 (Boys' Class 4A/3A)
South River0442 10
Goals: Westminster - Nick McDonough 3, Jesse Uhlman 2, Mike Kibler 2, Dan Carder; South River - Chris Carr 2, Ben Chisolm 2, Tyler White, Jon Carr, Matthew Gaskins, DJ Davis, Lavon Chaney, Michael Strange
Assists: Westminster - Ryan Drenner 3, Jesse Uhlman 2, Nick McDonough; South River - Lavon Chaney 2, Tyler White
Saves: Westminster - Nick Doyle 14; South River - Nick Marcelino 19Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun