Though Evan Riss, Wyatt Neely and the rest of the Oakland Mills boys lacrosse team have craved respect throughout the season, they all knew they needed a victory in league play to earn it.
An April 2 win against out-of-county foe Meade paved the way, but it wasn’t until Tuesday’s game against Hammond that the Scorpions finally found their stride.
Riss netted five goals, Neely added three more, and visiting Oakland Mills used a fourth-quarter comeback to down the Golden Bears, 10-8.
“It feels pretty great,” said Riss of his team finally nabbing that elusive victory. “It wasn’t an easy win. You definitely have to play your game in this county.”
Hammond entered looking for its first overall victory of the season, and after three quarters, it looked like the Golden Bears (0-6, 0-7) were finally going to break through.
“It was just one of those games that they finished more than we did, and they were able to capitalize on opportunities that we missed,” said Hammond coach Chris Reagle.
The home team struck first in the opening quarter when Shane Strott connected for the early goal. Not to be outdone, Riss found the back of the net less than one minute later for Oakland Mills (1-4, 2-5) to tie it up.
The second quarter went much like the first, with each team trading scores. Though Oakland Mills pulled ahead on back-to-back goals from Riss, the Golden Bears never trailed by more than two at any point in the game.
Alex Gladstone and Strott both had goals midway through the quarter to pull even once again. Still, Neely notched his first of the day with four minutes to play, and then again less than two seconds before the break, giving the Scorpions the 5-3 lead.
In the third quarter, the Golden Bears began to mount their comeback. With roughly six minutes left in the frame, Eric Smith received a pass from goalie Ben Ballard (18 saves) and ran the length of the field for the score.
Then came Hammond’s biggest run of the afternoon. Nekhil Patel, Joel Thomas and Strott all tallied goals within a two-minute span to close out the quarter.
Oakland Mills’ Matt Claxton fired for his first two goals of the season just before that Hammond offensive surge – a critical moment, according to Hipszer, who thought the junior’s effort made all the difference in the game.
Tied, 7-7, heading into the final quarter, Hammond’s Gladstone put his team ahead for the first time of the second half.
Knowing his team hadn’t faced that type of adversity all season, Hipszer said keeping his guys motivated was important.
“I was just watching the sideline, keeping them believing that they were going to win, even though we were down by a goal,” he said. “We’re not usually in that type of a position, so how they responded was huge.”
The coach said most of his plays run through either Neely or Riss, so it was no surprise that, in the game’s waning minutes, the two stepped up to the challenge.
With less than five minutes to play, Neely fed Riss for the equalizing goal. The freshman scored again seconds later to put his team ahead.
As the game came to a close, Neely provided his team with a little bit of breathing room with his third tally of the night – giving the Scorpions the two-goal advantage, and eventually the win.
Keeping with the team’s “family first” mantra, Reagle said there was a lot his Golden Bears can take from such a tough loss.
“We’re just going to regroup, come back out and play for each other,” he said. “We don’t listen to what anyone else says about us. It’s about taking care of all the guys around us.”
Neely and Riss lauded the poise their teammates showed as the game hung in the balance. With such a close win already in their pocket, the two believe more victories could be in their future.
“We kept our heads up, and kept playing the way we know how,” said Neely. “This past week, this is all we’ve been focusing on. We’re just looking for respect.”
Oakland Mills 10, Hammond 8
Goals: OM – Evan Riss (5), Wyatt Neely (3), Matt Claxton (2); Ha – Shane Strott (3), Alex Gladstone (2), Nehkil Patel, Eric Smith, Joey Thomas.
Assists: OM – Riss (2), Neely (2), Ryan Zovko; Ha – Strott 2, Gladstone, Ben Ballard, Brendan Smith.
Saves: OM – Jesse Ketchum 12; Ha – Ben Ballard 18.
Half: 5-3, Scorpions
AACS 10, Glenelg Country 9 (OT)
Goals: GCS – Reid Chaconas (5), Pat Welsh (2), Sean Escalante, Nelson LeQuang.
Assists: GCS – Welsh (2), Chaconas, LeQuang.
Howard 7, Marriotts Ridge 0
Goals: H – Scott Bruner (2), John Travisano (2), Cody Ford, Brad Zulick, Leo Sementilli.
Assists: H – Justin Simmons (2), Eric Schroeder (2), Travisano.
Saves: H – Bryan Mauser 5; MR – Chris McTague 11.
Howard (6-0, 7-0); Marriotts Ridge (4-2)
Mt. Hebron 8, Reservoir 6
Goals: MH – Zach Stevens (2), Kyle Sutton (2), Shane Brookhart (2), Thomas Stone, Brian Demek; Re – Hans Wicklein (2), Cole Evans, Matthew Marsh, Gary Cidre, Austin Mitchell.
Assists: MH – Stevens, Stone, Demek, Brookhart; Re – N/A
Saves: MH – Casey Dubois 9; Re – Trent Teodori 10.
Half: 4-3, Vikings.
Mt. Hebron (5-1, 5-2); Reservoir (2-4)
Glenelg 13, Long Reach 2
Goals: G – Tommy Chaisson (3), Brett Wasson (2), Luke Cheswick (2), Carson Marshall, Tyler Wasson, Breyer Burford, Kevin Wynne, Stephen O’Donoghue, Jeremy Rigali; LR – Will Parham, Skylar Briscoe.
Assists: Not reported
Saves: G – Daniel Hopkins 3; LR – Anthony Valenza 15.
Glenelg (5-1, 5-2); Long Reach (0-6)
Centennial 9, Wilde Lake 5
Goals: C – John Kolp (2), Andrew Gavlin (2), Mike Moore (2), Sam Clay, Austin Kraisser; WL – Patrick Riley (2), Pierson Swanson, Jack Quinn, Danny Chu.
Assists: C – Quinn Western, Noah Taylor, Clay, Moore; WL – Ryan Tiffey (3), Riley, Quinn.
Saves: C – Dan Pomeranz 3, Jayson Simpson 2; Joe Boccher 18.
Half: 6-1, Eagles.
Centennial (5-1); Wilde Lake (1-4, 2-4)
Atholton 7, River Hill 6
Goals: A – Tyler Shams (2), Scott Brown (2), Ryan McHugh, Collin Mercilliot, Justin Spoon. RH – N/A
Saves: A – Andrew Seidel 12; RH – N/A
Atholton (3-3); River Hill (3-3)