In the final week of the regular season, Glenelg boys lacrosse traveled to Marriotts Ridge, where the team struggled to put goals on the board for much of the first half.
Just eight days later, in the second round of the Section I 3A/2A South regional playoffs, the Gladiators got another shot at the Mustangs on their turf.
Just as it did in the first meeting, Glenelg started slow, opting for a second-half surge that quelled any chance of an upset.
“They tried to take the air out of the ball,” said Gladiators coach Josh Hatmaker, whose team went on to defeat Marriotts Ridge, 7-3, Friday at Western Regional Park. “Obviously that was one of their strategies.”
One thing that differed from the last time the two teams met was the mood surrounding the game itself.
The Gladiators (9-2 county, 11-4) were celebrating their second annual “Cheese On” Day. Fans in the stands dressed in purple in memory of 2008 Glenelg High School graduate Matthew Cheswick, who was killed by a drunk driver in May 2012.
Luke Cheswick, Matthew’s younger brother, is in his final season as a member of the Gladiators squad. After scoring five goals in last year’s ‘Purple Game,’ the senior backed it up with a pair of scores and an assist against the Mustangs in this year's memorial contest.
“It’s really cool just to honor my brother. He would have been here if he could have been. He was a big supporter of mine,” Cheswick said.
The senior’s goals came within one minute of one another, separated only by the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. Up until that point, the Gladiators had difficulty getting shots past Marriotts Ridge goalie Chris McTague (11 saves).
Throughout the game, Hatmaker preached patience to his team. The first two quarters featured the Mustangs’ notorious defense, which held Glenelg from going on a run, or establishing a string of consistent possessions.
“I thought we were pushing too much, like our guys got antsy, because we didn’t have the ball,” Hatmaker said. “Then suddenly, we were taking bad shots. You can’t do that against that defense. (Mustangs coach) Tony (Incontrera) does an awesome job with them.”
Marriotts Ridge’s Jack Grote and Patrick Clipp each notched first-half goals, matching every offensive move the Gladiators made.
Tied 2-2 at the half, the Gladiators nearly went the entire third without lighting up the scoreboard. With 34 seconds left before the end of the period, Tommy Chaisson notched his second goal of the game, giving Glenelg a lead it would fail to relinquish.
“We knew coming in that they would try to slow the ball down, pass it around before they try and go to goal,” Cheswick said. “So we had to be aware that every possession counts.”
Following Cheswick’s two tallies, Caleb Marshall scored for the second time of the afternoon, and Kevin Wynne added one more goal to close out the victory.
Marriotts Ridge, which defeated Mt. Hebron in the first round of the sectional playoffs, ends its season with a 7-4 county, 9-7 overall record.
“I’m proud of our kids. I have a great group of guys, and they left everything they had out on the field,” said Incontrera, who added that his squad had improved a great deal from the start of the year.
With the Glenelg win, and subsequent Centennial victory against Winters Mill, the two teams will meet Monday in a rematch of the season-opener, when the Eagles ended the Gladiators’ streak of 60 consecutive wins against county opponents.
“There were some expectations in that first game that the coaches had and the kids didn’t,” Hatmaker said. “I challenged some of the kids that maybe didn’t prepare as they should have.
“We still have to go out and play. Centennial is good. They fly around, and their defense is fantastic. But, we know more about them now, and that’s good for us.”
Glenelg 7, Marriotts Ridge 3
Goals: G – Luke Cheswick (2), Carson Marshall (2), Tommy Chaisson (2), Kevin Wynne; MR – Jack Grote (2), Patrick Clipp
Assists: G – Cheswick (2), Marshall, Chaisson, Tyler Wasson; MR – Grant Hanlon
Saves: G – Landry Marshall 7; MR – Chris McTauge 11.
Centennial tops Winters Mill
In the other 3A/2A Section I South regional matchup, Centennial welcomed Winters Mill for a chance to take on Glenelg.
The Falcons got their knocks in early, but were ultimately outscored 6-0 in the third quarter, giving the Eagles the easy 14-9 victory.
“We really didn’t have the start we wanted. There’s just so much excitement for these playoff games – so much at stake,” Centennial coach Nick Kellinger said. “They want to come out and do their best. A lot of times, when you’re amped up, it just doesn’t happen for you.
“But, for us, it was about getting through that initial playoff jolt, and then we wanted to come out at halftime strong and fast. And we did.”
One of the highlights for the home team came on the hands of senior Andrew Gavlin, who racked up three goals and six assists.
Gavlin, who said it was nice to see the offense start to click as the team builds its momentum, added that it was personally gratifying to have such a successful game when it mattered most.
“I had big expectations coming into this year, and I was struggling early on,” he said.
With four minutes to go in the third quarter, the senior felt confident enough to take a turnaround whip-shot that he “probably shouldn’t have made.”
The attempt stayed high, and sailed past Winters Mill goalie Zach Peters for the score.
Gavlin turned around and pumped his fists in excitement.
“I was like, ‘This is special,’ he said. “I wanted to enjoy the moment.”
Gavlin wasn’t the only Centennial offensive star on the day. Mikey Moore (4 goals), and Dean Fochios (3) also got on the board multiple times. Quinn Western notched four assists as well.
Zane Pusateri, who had three goals and two assists, led Winters Mill on offense.
Kellinger said his group is very aware of the next the challenger. Following his team’s win against the Falcons, the coach told his guys that just one win against the Gladiators isn’t enough.
“I think we’re peaking right now, and that’s what you have to do in the playoffs,” Kellinger said. “We want to play them from the standpoint that the motivation speaks for itself. We got them at the beginning of the season. We want to show that wasn’t a fluke.”
Centennial 14, Winters Mill 9
Goals: C – Mikey Moore (4), Dean Fochios (3), Andrew Gavlin (3), Austin Kraisser, Sam Clay, Chase Conley, John Kolp; WM – Zane Pusateri (3), Spencer Eysaman (2), Austin Hill (2), Tyler Drager.
Assists: C – Andrew Gavlin (6), Quinn Western (4), Conley, Clay; WM – Pusateri (2), Brendan Markovic, Hill.
Saves: C – Dan Pomeranz 7; WM – Zach Peters 12.
Half: 7-4, Eagles.
Class 3A/2A South, Section II
River Hill 12, Wilde Lake 2
Northeast (AA) 9, Atholton 7
Class 2A/1A West, Section I
Liberty 13, Oakland Mills 2
Goals: OM – Wyatt Neely, Thomas Brumbaugh.
Assists: OM – Evan Riss.
Saves: OM – Jesse Ketchum 14
Half: 9-0, Lions.