Luke Cheswick had a day he’ll never forget. He got to meet Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco while honoring his older brother Matthew, and then he produced an inspired effort as Glenelg extended its boys lacrosse winning streak by handing Mt. Hebron its first loss.
On Friday afternoon, the Glenelg junior met Flacco at a charity event for Matthew, who was killed by a drunk driver last May in Ocean City. Flacco donated a check worth $25,000 to the Matthew J. Cheswick Memorial Fund.
After meeting the Super Bowl MVP, Cheswick arrived about 10 minutes before the start of the game against Mt. Hebron. He threw on his equipment, joined his team and went on to score a career-high five goals as the Gladiators handed the Vikings their first loss of the season with a commanding 15-6 victory at Western Regional Park.
“This was a great day,” Cheswick said. “I never thought that I would be able to meet Joe Flacco. I got to go see him and miss some school, which was pretty good. Then when we got on the field, everything came together and we put it on them.”
With the win, the Gladiators extended their winning streak against county opponents to 52 consecutive games and now have the inside track on another title as the last undefeated team in the league at 6-0.
Mt. Hebron entered the pivotal contest as the county’s top scoring team (16 goals per game) and posed a serious threat to Glenelg’s run. But the Gladiators played arguably their most complete game of the season and held the Vikings to their lowest scoring output of the season.
“We were talking about this game all week,” Cheswick said. “We saw an article earlier in the season that said they had a chance to win the county this year and we didn’t want that to happen. We thought that we should make a statement to the rest of the county.”
The message was heard loud and clear.
Glenelg proved it is still the team to beat with a dominant second quarter. With his team already ahead, 3-1, faceoff specialist Anthony Pagnotta took over.
Pagnotta won the first three face-offs of the period that turned into a score by Tyler Wasson and back-to-back goals by Cheswick. The Vikings didn’t gain control off the ball on their offensive end until the seven-minute mark of the quarter.
“Sometimes it’s not even fair,” Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker said about the Towson-bound Pagnotta. “I hate to use that term but it’s demoralizing. … Whether you score a goal or you’ve got momentum – or you don’t have momentum – the next thing you know it’s make it, take it.”
The Gladiators continued to ride the momentum that Pagnotta provided.
Cheswick slipped behind the defense again for another goal and Nick Forrest added a score to increase the Gladiators’ lead to 8-1 with 2 minutes, 49 seconds left in the half.
To make matters worse for Mt. Hebron, freshman defenseman Matt Leone took a high hit to his neck and had to be carted off the field with two minutes to play in the period. Leone gave a thumbs-up to the crowd as paramedics took him to a local hospital.
The Vikings couldn’t score on the man-up opportunity, however, and trailed at halftime for the first time this season.
“We were doing things that we haven’t done all year,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike McCarthy said. “We were ball-watching on defense and they completely outplayed us. We were sleepwalking.
“When we got down, we were very hesitant to do anything, offensively or defensively. We were so scared to make a mistake, then we started making more mistakes.”
Pagnotta continued to own the face-off X, winning all seven in the third quarter. Glenelg put the game away with a seven goals in the period to make it 15-1 and started a running clock.
“Their faceoff kid is pretty good so I had been preparing all week,” said Pagnotta, who also scored a goal. “I’ve been doing a lot more drills with the timing of the whistle. I broke my stick a week ago but the new one worked.”
The Gladiators’ offense was clicking on all cylinders. Wasson scored four times and Forrest added three goals and three assists, but it was the defense that was especially impressive. Goalie Landry Marshall frustrated the high-scoring Vikings all-day and finished with 10 saves.