Howard’s boys lacrosse team fell just short of reaching the state final four last year when it lost to Bel Air in the regional title game. If the Lions' Class 4A-3A South Region first-round game Wednesday is any indication, they're determined to make up for that disappointment.

Howard used a dominating second quarter in which the Lions scored seven goals to run away from visiting Perry Hall of Baltimore County, 20-5.

“We had a depressing loss (in the region finals) but this year we’re hoping to win it,” said Lions attackman Nick Striebich. “This was a good way to start the playoffs. We were a little sloppy at first but we picked it up.”

It took the Lions a few minutes to get going but once they got into the groove of the game, their offense was unstoppable.

Scott Bruner scored five goals and added an assist to pace Howard (13-2). Brad Zulick, Cody Ford and Striebich each contributed three goals, while John Travisano and Leo Sementilli both scored twice.

“We jumped out on them pretty early,” Howard coach Jimmy Creighton said. “We did what we had to do today to get the job done. I wasn’t too happy with how we were playing early on. We were sloppy with the ball and couldn’t clear it well but the transition allowed us to stick a few on them in a row.”

Howard took a 4-1 lead into the second quarter before the offense got on track. The Lions outscored the Gators, 7-1, in the frame on only 10 shots. Bruner scored three times in the period and goalie Ben Judy made three saves as the Lions opened up a nine-goal advantage at halftime.

The third quarter was much of the same with Striebich and Ford each scoring twice. Striebich finished in front of the cage to make it 15-3 with 6 minutes, 33 seconds left to start a running clock.

“We were moving the ball and getting extra looks,” Striebich said. “Instead of taking 20-yard shots, we were taking five-yard shots.”

Chandler Aversa had a goal and three assists for Perry Hall (5-6), which ended its season on a four-game losing streak.

Creighton knows that his team can’t look into the future to the championship game before first taking care of business in these early rounds.

“The goal is not to reach the regional final. The goal is to win it,” Creighton said. “These guys want to do that but we have a lot of work to do to get to that point. We have to beat a couple more teams to even get there, so we’re not really talking about it yet.”

The first piece of business will be Mervo from Baltimore City. Howard will host the Mustangs on Friday night in the quarterfinals.

Statistical breakdown:

EMO:

PH: 0-2

Ho: 2-3

Shots:

PH: 18

Ho: 39