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.
Class 4A-3A South first round
Howard 20, Perry Hall 5
PH 1 1 2 1 — 5
Ho 4 7 6 3 — 20
Goals: PH – Coates 2, Aversa, Haley, Brent; Ho – Bruner 5, Striebich 3, Zulick 3, Ford 3, Travisano 2, Sementilli 2, Keohane, Gerus.
Assists: PH – Aversa 3; Ho – Striebich 2, Bruner, Travisano, Keohane, Sementilli, Zulick, Dunnigan.
Saves: PH – Schuman 6; Ho – Judy 6, Mauser 2.
Halftime: Howard, 11-2.
Class 2A-1A West first round
Oakland Mills 7, Francis Scott Key 6
The Scorpions (5-10) jumped out to an early four-goal lead at halftime and led 6-1 in the fourth quarter before needing to hold off the Eagles’ rally.
With the score tied at 6-6 late, Jack Farrall scored the game-winner with just under two minutes left to help Oakland Mills advance.
"We almost let it slip away in the fourth quarter, but the team believed in themselves and simply refused to have their season end," coach Matt Hipszer said. "I was very proud of the way the team handled the pressure of playing in a close game with the season on the line. Without our two key seniors Jack and Jimmy Riss there is no way we win that game."
Farrall finished with four goals and Riss contributed two goals and an assist. John Caldwell added a pair of assists and Brandon Andrews made 16 saves.
Oakland Mills will travel to top-seeded North Carroll on Friday in the quarterfinals.
Goals: FSK –Villegas 3, Cook, Storey, Cox; OM – Farrall 4, Riss 2, Neely.
Assists: FSK – Villegas: OM – Caldwell 2, Riss.
Saves: FSK – N/A; OM – Andrews 16.
Halftime: Oakland Mills, 5-1.
Class 3A-2A South first round
Northeast (AA) 15, Long Reach 7
The Lightning’s season came to an end when they traveled to Anne Arundel County in a loss to the Eagles (6-9).
Colin McClelland scored three goals and Daquan Dixon had two goals and two assists for Long Reach (2-10). Vincent Valenza added two goals and an assist, while Anthony Valenza stopped 10 shots.
Northeast advances to the quarterfinals where they will face second-seeded Centennial on Friday.
Goals: LR – McClelland 3, V. Valenza 2, Dixon 2.
Assists: LR – Dixon 2, V. Valenza, St. Hilaire.
Saves: LR – A. Valenza 10.
River Hill 16, Wilde Lake 9
Hammond at Reservoir, ppd