For the first time in Harford County boys lacrosse history, two teams from within Harford's borders played their way into the state finals, where the two will play each other Tuesday evening at UMBC.
The drama unfolded Friday and Saturday at Bel Air High School, site of the Maryland Class 1A-2A boys lacrosse state semifinals, where Fallston beat Northwestern, 22-5, Friday night and Patterson Mill followed Saturday afternoon, shutting out Oakdale, 9-0.
Patterson Mill and Fallston did meet once previously this season. Actually twice. In their UCBAC Chesapeake (upper) Division contest, the game was locked 4-4 when lightning forced a stoppage with 3:48 to play in the first half. The game was delayed for a few days and when it reconvened, Fallston posted a 9-5 win.
In Patterson Mill's win Saturday, the Huskies (9-9) were leading 3-0 after one quarter, 6-0 at the half and 7-0 through three quarters. Huskies goalie Will Urban posted the shutout with seven saves.
"Proud of the effort of our guys today. Oakdale is a new school and up and coming program and they fought hard for four quarters," Huskies head coach Jason Bellamy said. "Our defense and goalie play was outstanding and we won the ground ball battle all four quarters. Our offense executed well and finished the opportunities we had. Offensively we were well balanced with contributions from all our offensive midfielders and our attack. We look forward to a great challenge this week with a very skilled and well coached Fallston team."
Chase Tallon, Sam Caretti and Michael Dinatale each scored two goals to lead the Huskies, while Josh Wilson, Brendan Egan and Patrick Springer had single goals. Wilson left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not return.
Egan dished out five assists and single assists were credited to Tallon, Wilson, Noah Holloway and Springer.
Oakdale goalie John Hoffman made 11 saves. Oakdale's faceoff man Jonathan Paige won eight of 12 faceoffs.
This is the Huskies second trip to the finals, having been a runner-up in 2011. The Huskies were also region champions in 2010 and 2012, but lost in state semifinal play.
Cougars set to defend
With its 22-5 state semifinal win over Northwestern, Fallston put itself into position to repeat.
Fallston (15-4), which also beat Northwestern in last year's state semifinal (23-3), quickly turned around a slow start to get on track.
Following an opening Fallston failed shot, Northwestern senior Kier Johnson raced the length of the field and scored unassisted just 19 seconds into the game.
"We just forgot that they have some guys that have a lot of heart and that can play," Cougars head coach Matt Parks said about the surprising start. "If you're not on top of it and do the right things and play smart, they're gonna come out and get that first goal."
Fallston quickly recovered and 17 consecutive goals later, the Cougars were ahead at the half, 17-1. Fallston scored nine goals in the first quarter and eight in the second.
Senior Kyle D'Onofrio highlighted the victory, scoring four goals and becoming the Cougars all-time single-season leading scorer with 66 goals.
"When I was an eighth grader, going into my freshman year of playing lacrosse, I always wanted to break a record and I've always liked scoring goals," D'Onofrio said. "So that was always my first thing to do, is try and break that single season scoring record because everyone thought it was too high."
Matt Bosse of the Cougars 2001 state championship team held the previous record of 62 goals.
Johnson of Northwestern also scored four goals to lead the Wildcats. "Going into the game, we already knew some things were going to go wrong, but we just knew that we had to play our hardest," Johnson said.
Garrett Wolf and Brent McGuire added three goals apiece for Fallston.
The Cougars played a different goalie in each quarter; Mark Wollenweber made two saves; Nick Buckler had three; Liam Wilcox had two and Matt Claffe had one. Northwestern goalie Robert Chandler had a good game with 13 saves.
Fallston also got scoring from Tommy Kisielnicki, Jeremy Scranton and Tommy Bracken with two goals each. Single goals were scored by Marc Badger, Nick Baker, Wes Rumple, Kyle McKeever, Ian Clough and Zach Roberts.
The Cougars also had many assists, led by McGuire's four. Badger added three and D'Onofrio had two. Other assists were credited to Kisielnicki, Wolf, Bracken, Tyler Scott, Andy Stump and Joey Maranto.
Northwestern's other goal was tallied by Lamont Marable, who just seconds before drew applause from the Fallston crowd after a nifty move near midfield.
Northwestern head coach Lloyd Carter praised the efforts of his team. "It's good, because it allows our players to see the top competition and it shows them that they can play with the top competition," Carter said.
As for the state final and who the opponent might be, Parks said, "We really don't know much about Oakdale. We'd like to see Patterson Mill, we'd like to see a county team from each of the regions as well."