Though Harford County boys lacrosse fans couldn't have a loser Tuesday evening at UMBC, fans of the Fallston Cougars are a bit happier, as the Cougars won their second straight Maryland Class 1A-2A state championship, beating neighboring foe Patterson Mill, 15-5.
The Cougars (16-4) were dominant throughout the all-Harford championship, controlling faceoffs, possession and holding a 27-18 shots on goal advantage. It was a slightly different game than the one the two teams played during the regular season. Fallston won that too, 9-5.
"They've been here four times now in the 1A-2A, so they're a bit more experienced than we are," Cougars head coach Matt Parks said. "We've just been fortunate enough to come out on top."
The Cougars led 2-0 early and 5-1 at the half. A 6-0 third quarter boosted the lead to 11-1 and the Cougars pushed the lead to 12, 15-3 late in the fourth quarter to produce the running clock, but the Huskies closed the contest with two goals to end the scoring.
The Cougars used an advantage in speed that led to the first half lead. Senior Marc Badger opened the scoring with assist from Steven Ernst nearly four minutes into the game.
"We've been practicing really well these past few weeks getting ready for this game, but taking each game step-by-step," Badger said. We've been emphasizing just playing each minute tough and hard and trying to win the next minute."
Wes Rumple scored his first of two first half goals less than a minute later giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
Patterson Mill's (10-10) only first half goal came on a nifty play by senior Josh Wilson. Wilson, who had four of the Huskies five goals, worked past a defender and streaked toward the goal. Nearing the crease, Wilson lunged and while in contact with a defender, let loose of a low shot that found its way past Cougars goalie Mark Wollenweber early in the second quarter.
Fallston answered with three consecutive goals to close the half. Badger (three assists) assisted Jeremy Scranton, who was uncontested on the Huskies doorstep, 40 seconds after Wilson's goal.
James Glezen controlled the faceoff and 10 seconds later, scored unassisted. Rumple also scored unassisted to end the run with 6:19 left in the half.
The Cougars were in full control in the second half, anchored by the 6-0 shutout in the third quarter. Those six goals were part of a 10-0 run that spanned from the second quarter to the fourth. The six goals were also scored by six different players, highlighted by Chris Dunnigan's goal, that came after splitting two Patterson Mill defenders and shooting while lying on his back with just a minute left in the quarter.
Scranton put the exclamation point on the big quarter with his second goal, with :01 left on the clock. Rumple, who shared high scoring honors with Badger (three goals apiece), assisted.
The Cougars defense and the play of goalie Wollenweber was stifling. Defensive leader Sean Lewns pointed out the progress of that defense.
"This year was our first year playing together and that showed in the St. Paul's game. We weren't ready, we weren't clicking, we weren't talking," Lewns said. "Towards the end of the year, towards the middle of the season, I think Bel Air was our turning point, where we turned it around. We were playing tough defense, Mark [Wollenweber] was making big saves, we were talking, we were getting loud. Everything was just coming out right, ground balls, putting bodies on the floor and it ended up just being perfect and you could see it in the end of the game."
Kyle D'Onofrio, Scranton and Glezen each finished with two goals and one assist. Garrett Wolf and Tommy Kisielnicki also scored goals.
Sam Caretti had Patterson Mill's other goal, assisted by Wilson.
Wollenweber turned away six shots in a little more than a half of play. Nick Buckler and Liam Wilcox also saw time in the Cougars goal, but neither made a save. Huskies goalie Will Urban also finished with six saves.
"In the championship game here today, they just got up on us early and it was a tough mountain to climb," Huskies head coach Jason Bellamy said "I thought they did a really nice job today. They have a heckuva team, well coached and they exploited some weaknesses that we couldn't patch up today and fix on both ends of the field. When that happens, it becomes an uphill battle and in the end they just wore us down pretty good."