Atholton vs. Long Reach

Atholton's Sean McHugh wins a faceoff against Long Reach. The Raiders went on to defeat the Lightning, 9-2. (Photo submitted by Susan Markovitz / May 7, 2014)

Throughout this season, Atholton’s boys lacrosse team has displayed one of the better balancing acts of any squad in the county. One game they may be up, while in others, they miss a step or two.

Wednesday, against Long Reach in the first round in 3A/2A South Section I play, coach Erik Burnett was happy with what he saw, as the Raiders defeated the visiting Lightning, 9-2.

“We’re a little bit ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’” Burnett said. “Every game is a different package. We’re not sure what we’re going to get.
“Today, we were a little bit sloppy, but we worked hard and did some things well. I think every team in the county, at this point, is better than they were a month ago, so we’re no different from that. We’re just trying to execute like everybody else.”

One of the bright spots for the Raiders (5-6, 6-8) was the play of Ryan McHugh. The sophomore midfielder notched two goals and two assists, and remained a constant force on the offensive side of the ball throughout the night.

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“They were sliding quickly to me, so I knew the crease would be open,” McHugh said. “When they didn’t slide, I just put it in the back of the net.”

Atholton’s domination in the game didn’t take long to present itself. Just six minutes in, McHugh notched his first goal and assist of the night – a quick pass to Sam Smith.

In the second quarter, the home team tacked on four more scores, shutting the Lightning out in the process as well.

“We’re playing hard in between the restrainers. We’re getting ground balls, and we’re playing fast in transition,” Burnett said. “I was very happy with our defense.”

Long Reach got two scores in the second half courtesy of Andy Belush and Cristian Jerry.

The Raiders offense was a constant threat for goalie Anthony Valenza (15 saves) all game.

The Lightning end the season 2-9 in county play, and 4-10 overall.

With the win, Atholton advances to the second round of regional play. The Raiders will travel to Northeast High School Friday – a team they scrimmaged earlier in the year.

“They’ve got some real talented athletic kids,” Burnett said. “I think they’re like us. Very athletic, but they have their hot and cold days. They’re well coached, and they have some kids that can flat out play. It will be a battle.”

Atholton 9, Long Reach 2

Goals: A – Ryan McHugh (2), Sam Smith (2), Neil Sen, Max Bryant, Joey Brewer, Quentin Jones, Sean McHugh; LR – Andy Belush, Cristian Jerry.

Assists: A – R. McHugh (2), Smith (2), Brewer.

Saves: A – Andrew Seidel 4, Sam Zarcone 1, Darsh Patel 1; LR – Anthony Valenza 15.

Half: 7-0, Raiders.

Wilde Lake 16, Hammond 4

Wilde Lake hadn’t played against Hammond since the final week of March. In that game, the Cats rattled off 10 goals, but allowed five on defense in the winning effort.