The Baltimore boys All-Star team won its eighth consecutive game in the underclassmen tournament at the Under Armour Lacrosse Classic on Friday at Towson University, edging the West All-Stars, 10-9, after routing Upstate New York, 13-5, earlier in the afternoon.
Baltimore went 6-0 in the 2013 tournament to claim its first championship in the event.
Still, reputation alone could not carry the Baltimoreans to victory against a West squad that Loyola Blakefield star Ryan Conrad, who notched the tying and go-ahead goals, said was "big, fast and strong."
The locals had to battle back from a 5-1 deficit against a team with players hailing primarily from California, but also boasted stars from Nevada, Oregon and Arizona.
Coach Jimmy Crieghton said goals late in the second half by Timmy Kelly (Calvert Hall) and Mitch Gordon (St. Paul's) turned the tide.
"We had to work out some kinks early," the Howard High coach said. "Then we started to play better team ball by stressing to them to make the easy pass instead of trying to thread it inside."
Even so, it took the Kelly-Conrad combination to break a 9-9 deadlock with two minutes remaining to net the winning goal when the Cardinal standout found his fellow midfielder in front from about 8 yards.
Although members of archival teams during the high school season, the former Lutherville-Timonium Rec products know each other's tendencies on the field.
This time, it paid off for the Baltimore boys.
"We play basketball almost every day," said Kelly, like Conrad a rising senior. "I know when Ryan calls for the ball, even with two men on him, he's open. We're really good friends and have great chemistry."
It took all that effort and more to hold off a rival that jumped ahead, 7-6, late in the third quarter despite being two men down.
"They were a very good team," Conrad emphasized after the hard-fought victory.
Baltimore jumped back ahead, 8-7, on goals by longstick Brendan Connolly (St. Paul's) and attackman Patrick Spencer (Boys' Latin).
Jake Schleppy (California) and Max Tuttle (Colorado) then gave the West with 7:09 to go.
Gordon then found Conrad for the equalizer with 4:52 remaining before Kelly did the same nearly three minutes later.
Spencer led Baltimore with three goals while Conrad had two goals and a pair of assists.
A.J. Barretto had seven saves in the second half after Case DuBois recorded five stops in the opening half for the reigning champs.
Not to be outdone, the Baltimore girls topped Washington, D.C., 17-11, behind the strong midfield play of Olivia Jenner (McDonogh), Miranda Ibello (Maryvale) and Amanda Donovan (Mount de Sales).
"Megan Taylor was fabulous in the goal," Baltimore coach Jessica Randisi said. "She made multiple saves and was out of the goal constantly starting plays. We had 10 minutes where we didn't play very well, but looked solid the rest of the game."
The Baltimore girls also captured the title last summer with Randisi at the helm, sweeping all six gamesCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun