Less than favorable conditions left the Marriotts Ridge lacrosse field looking more like a swamp than a surface suitable for play, but it didn’t matter.
A little mud was not going to stop Friday’s Route 99 boys lacrosse rivalry game against Mt. Hebron.
Four different scorers gave the Mustangs the push they needed on offense, but it was the unwavering play of goalie Chris McTague, as well as the defense in front of him, that ultimately gave the home team the edge over the Vikings, 4-2.
“This feels great. I know (Mt. Hebron) coach (Mike) McCarthy very well, and he coaches those kids up. To beat him is very special, and to beat Mt. Hebron is very special,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Tony Incontrera, whose team improved to 5-3 in county play, and 7-5 overall. “I’m so proud of the way they came out and played. They had our number last year, so this was a big game for the guys.”
The game had a delayed start due to coaches and officials attempting to paint a crease line over the mud in front of the goal. With both keepers having to put in some extra work, those lines were unrecognizable by the time the final whistle blew.
McTague, who blocked 10 shots, said the win was especially sweet, given that it was the last time in the regular season he’d face the Mustangs’ No. 1 adversary.
“It feels pretty good to put them out like that,” said McTague, whose once-white jersey was splattered with the results of the intense the battle in the trenches. “Any time the ball hit the ground, it was literally just mud splashing in my face. But, we toughed it out.”
Though an injury to Thomas Stone in the first half didn’t help matters, Vikings coach Mike McCarthy said something felt off for his team from the start of the game. Between the two unsportsmanlike penalties, and the failure to eliminate turnovers even in man-up situations, there wasn’t much to get excited about from the visitors’ point of view.
“Frustration carried over because we weren’t playing well,” the coach said. “We’re not good enough on offense to make mistakes like that…in crucial situations, they got the ball up, or made a play on us defensively”
Added McCarthy: “They’re well-coached, and we weren’t tonight.”
In the first quarter, both teams stayed with their usual patient offensive mindset.
Mt. Hebron (6-3, 7-5) finally struck first, when Shane Brookhart took a pass from Zach Stevens in transition and fired – a rarity for the team so early into a possession.
Troy Hensh got his team on the board in the second period, when Grant Hanlon slipped a pass into the crease for the sophomore to finish.
The score remained knotted at 1-1 well into the third, before Mt. Hebron’s Kyle Watts streaked to the center and threw a shot right over McTague’s reach.
Three minutes later, the Mustangs used a quick, 30-second run to eventually pull ahead.
With 4:09 left in the third, defender Chase Sanchez hit Sam McCoy for the game-tying goal. On the next possession, Kenyon Hendershot’s underhanded rip gave Marriotts Ridge its first lead of the game.
Austin Dorsey shut the door with his goal in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Key checks from Donald Colegrove and Josh Koller on the following Viking possessions sealed the win for the home team.
“I think it would have been 4-2 if it was played on turf,” said Incontrera, praising Mt. Hebron’s ability to keep the game tight. “They played their butts off, and my guys played their butts off. It easily could have been 4-2 the other way.”
One thing that has remained constant for Incontrera is McTague’s play in the cage. For a team that has only scored in double-digits against county foes twice this season, the goalie has been a major factor in the winning record.
“He’s turned into a very special player for us, and he’s as good as any other goalie that we’ve seen so far,” the coach said.