For Baltimore-area prep lacrosse fans, all is right with the world after the boys and girls-all-star teams went undefeated to sweep the Under Armour Lacrosse Underclass tournament championships Sunday afternoon at Towson University.
The twin wins were as much dramatic (girls) as they were decisive (boys) in completeing a combined 12-0 run through the tournament for the Baltimore squads.
The girls, who had several down-to-the-wire victories, pulled out another heart-stopper in the last 10 seconds on Mount de Sales rising senior attacker Amanda Ignacio's third goal of the game to defeat previously unbeaten Long Island, 10-9.
McDonogh rising senior Megan Whittle, who scored five goals and added a pair of assists in the triumph, fed Ignacio for the game winner. Whittle was named the tournament MVP.
"She had an awesome tournament," Baltimore coach Jessica Randisi said.
Marriotts Ridge rising senior midfielder Marissa Davey and McDonogh rising sophomore midfielder Brindi Griffin added single goals for the champs while Maryvale rising junior midfielder Miranda Ibello (two), Ignacio (two) and Century rising sophomore midfielder Hannah Warther added assists.
The Baltimore boys were ahead, 13-11, in the final against Washington, D.C. midway through the fourth quarter until they closed with a furious 4-0 run on goals by Hereford rising senior midfielder Adam Ceribelli, Westminster rising senior midfielder Jesse Uhlman, Gilman rising senior attackman Chase Wittich and Hereford rising senior attackman Jason Ashwood.
In a semidfinal earlier on Sunday, Baltimore routed defending champion Philadelphia, 17-10.
Baltimore led, 9-7, in the third period before closing the game on an 8-3 run on goals by Loyola Blakefield rising junior midfielder Ryan Conrad, Boys' Latin rising senior midfielder Tal Bruno, Gilman rising senior midfielder William McBride, Ashwood and Gilman rising junior attackman Andy Matthews.
Bruno, Ashwood and Conrad scored two goals each during the spree.
Boys' Latin rising senior attackman Shack Stanwick was named the tournament MVP.
"Shack is a very smart attackman," Baltimore coach Tom Marechek said. He's our quarterback. He controls the pace of the game."
Stanwick had two goals and five assists in the final after notching a goal and four assists against Philadelphia in a semifinal.
On Saturday, Baltimore picked a perfect time to play inspired defense in an 11-7 triumph over Long Island.
The victory earned Baltimore a top seed in the playoffs on Sunday at the same site and knocked the New Yorkers out of the playoff hunt.
Coming on the heels of a 13-10 win over New England earlier in the day, Baltimore capped a perfect day in running its record to 4-0.
Rising junior goalies, A.J. Barretto, of St. Paul's, and Century's Alex Gipe, combined for 15 saves — topping the duo's 12-save effort against New England — to help Baltimore keep it close until the offense came to life in the second half.
"We're beginning to build some chemistry," Barretto said after compiling eight saves in the first half. "Long Island has a bunch of good guys, but it's great to have Baltimore win."
Baltimore trailed, 5-4, in the third quarter until Matthews tied it on an inside roll to beat Long Island goalie Jack Concannon. Goals by Uhlman and St. Paul's rising senior Mikey Wynne gave Baltimore a 7-5 advantage heading into the final period.
After McDonogh's Brinton Valis and McBride continued the run with goals, Long Island was too far behind to recover.
"We didn't talk about knocking Long Island out (of the playoffs)," Baltimore coach Tom Marechek said. "We just wanted to keep our momentum going."
Earlier, Baltimore built a 10-2 halftime lead against New England (2-1) after starting strong in the opening period.
"We were hustling after groundballs," said Stanwick, who scored all three of his goals before the intermission. "We put in a lot of effort."
Stanwick added that beating Long Island would be a great way to conclude the second day of competition.
"We definitely want to do that," he said. "This is all about the team. We want to win it."
He and McBride helped Baltimore turn a 7-2 advantage into a bigger margin near the end of the first half.
McBride scored back-to-back goals after long runs through the New England defense before Stanwick darted inside for another goal on an extra-man situation.
On Friday, after exploding for six goals to snap an 8-8 halftime tie, Baltimore had to hold on to secure an 18-16 shootout win over the Midwest.
Valis and Wynne each notched their game-high fifth goals in the final minutes of the contest to stifle a withering Midwest rally.
The Baltimoreans came out with a vengeance in the third quarter on goals by Valis, Wynne, Stanwick, Conrad, Ashwood and Wynne again to take what appeared to be a commanding 14-8 advantage midway through the period.
However, a goal by longstick middie Jake Miller, a rising senior from Arrowhead High in Wisconsin, ignited a 7-2 run that closed the gap to 16-15 with about four minutes remaining.
That's when Valis dodged past the opposing faceoff specialist and one-hopped a shot into the net before Midwest rising senior Pierre Byrne, from Indiana's Culver Military Academy, ripped a shot with one second left in an extra-man situation to make it, 17-16.
The Baltimoreans put it away with about 45 seconds left when Wynne's ride-and-strip preceded his back-handed flip shot into the goal for the final margin.
Defense was not a strong suit for either team in the opener.
"We gave up a lot of uncontested shots," Marechek said. "We needed to tighten up the middle. Our goalies (Barretto and Gipe combined for seven saves) let in some shots they shouldn't have, and they know that. That's just too many goals."
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