Though it has been one-sided over the last few years, the Glenelg-River Hill boys lacrosse rivalry is known for bringing out the best in both teams.
But, with a 3A/2A South regional final on the line Wednesday, that grit was only intensified.
Just as they did in the regular season, the Gladiators shut down the Hawks, this time 14-5, at Western Regional Park. With the win, coach Josh Hatmaker’s squad celebrated its eighth consecutive regional championship.
“It’s just one of those things you always look forward to. They’re great competition,” Hatmaker said of the visiting Hawks. “That defense is fantastic. I thought we had a great day shooting the ball after we figured it out.”
The Gladiators (9-2, 12-4) started slow, but the offense began to show signs of life once the momentum shifted in its favor.
After allowing River Hill (6-5, 8-8) to run out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first quarter, Glenelg got it back, and then some, in the second.
Luke Cheswick and Kevin Wynne – both of whom scored four times each on the day – converted for two goals in those 12 minutes alone. Nick Forrest and Tommy Chaisson added the other scores during the 6-0 run to close out the first half.
“Once we get momentum, we can put up at least four goals at a time,” Wynne said. “It’s just a game-changer.”
Without skipping a beat, Glenelg kept its foot on the throttle in the second half, outscoring the Hawks, 8-3. A six unanswered goal streak that spanned nearly 12 minutes between quarters helped solidify the near-double-digit victory as well.
Cheswick, who has been one of the Gladiators’ offensive mainstays through the end of the regular season, as well as into the playoffs, noted the team’s ability to shoot with better efficiency was on display in the win.
After coming off a Section I final, where Glenelg allowed six goals in the fourth quarter to Centennial, the defense had enough pluck to return 24 hours later and limit the River Hill attack as well.
“We have (Matt) Baxter and Craig (Burris), and they’re always a shutdown tandem,” Cheswick said. “When you put (goalie) Landry (Marshall) behind them, and Billy (Noyes), and our long pole Max (Herwig), they are pretty hard to score on. They played with intensity, and it really shows on the scoreboard.”
Chris Moseman, Danny Issac, Jimmy McEneaney, Jake Friedman and Tyler Sauer spread the ball around for River Hill, with each collecting a goal in the losing effort.
After three consecutive seasons of sub-.500 play, Hawks coach Keith Gonsouland said it was nice to see his team’s improvement in 2014.
“I feel like we made a statement this year,” he said. “We only lose four seniors, so basically our whole team is coming back. Our JV won the county this year, so the future is looking bright for us.”
With the win, Glenelg advances to yet another state semifinal game. This year, the Gladiators face one of their most familiar non-county foes in Hereford.
The Bulls have come away victorious the last two times the teams played – both in the state championship game.
“We always look forward to playing them, just haven’t looked forward to the last two results,” Hatmaker said. “Every year is a new year...I know any Brian King-coached team is going to be tough, and they are going to know what they’re doing, and they’re going to have a plan. That’s our job to execute and do what we have to do.”
Glenelg 14, River Hill 5
Goals: G – Luke Cheswick (4), Kevin Wynne (4), Nick Forrest (2), Tommy Chaisson (2), Kevin Coppinger, Tyler Wasson; RH – Chris Moseman, Danny Issac, Jimmy McEneaney, Jake Friedman,Tyler Sauer.