Following Glenelg’s visit to Marriotts Ridge Thursday afternoon, boys lacrosse coach Josh Hatmaker told his guys that, while he wouldn’t congratulate them on a good game, their play in the second half certainly made up for it.
Sometimes, 24 minutes is all a team really needs.
After trailing at the break, the Gladiators tallied six unanswered scores through the third and fourth quarters to blow past the Mustangs, 8-3.
“We had opportunities in the first half, we just didn’t finish. We would just make an 80 percent play,” said Hatmaker, whose squad improves to 8-2 in county play, and 9-4 overall. “In the second half, we were moving the ball. But the biggest thing was that we were moving off-ball. We were creating space for ourselves.
“That’s the biggest thing we changed. I didn’t tell them that we needed a new game plan at halftime.”
Coach Tony Incontrera thought his Mustangs (6-4, 7-6) played at a high level in the first half, but regressed in the second.
”We gave them too many chances,” he said. “We weren’t getting the ground balls we needed to get. We weren’t winning the faceoffs. They’re a very good offensive team. It’s a tough matchup for everybody.”
Luke Cheswick, who scored a game-high three goals for the Gladiators, said the squad thrives on shifts in momentum. When teammate Nick Forrest scored just seconds into the fourth quarter, Glenelg started its final run that put the game out of reach.
“(This win) lets us know that, even if we’re down, we still have a shot,” he said. “With our offense, we can always fill up the net and put some goals up fast.”
With the week’s rain having saturated the Marriotts Ridge stadium field, players struggled to gain their footing for much of the first quarter. The Gladiators were playing in their first game of the season on grass. Though both Cheswick and Hatmaker didn’t use that as an excuse, both teams had to deal with the effects of the conditions nonetheless.
Throughout the opening 12 minutes, players from both sides failed to find the back of the net, but the Mustangs rode a few key possessions and got some very close looks.
Cheswick gave Glenelg its first score of the day less than one minute into the second frame, but Austin Dorsey countered for the home team, knotting things up minutes later. The teams would trade scores soon after, when Glenelg’s Caleb Marshall and Marriotts Ridge’s Chase Sanchez each connected for goals.
With 2:20 remaining before the half, Jack Grote scooped up a ricochet off Glenelg goalie Landry Marshall (9 saves) and converted the put-back, giving the Mustangs a 3-2 lead at intermission.
Cheswick scored just 52 seconds into the third quarter, and, after nearly 11 minutes of silence on the offensive front, Glenelg put its foot on the throttle in the fourth.
Breyer Burford (2), Kevin Wynne, Forrest and Cheswick all scored in the final 11:22 of the game, turning what was once a stout defensive battle into a display of offensive supremacy. Mustangs’ goalie Chris McTague (12 saves) was nearly unstoppable for the first three quarters, but with the elevated frequency of shots being fired his way, it was difficult to keep pace.
Incontrera faulted uncharacteristic penalties and a lack of communication on defense as key contributors to the late collapse.
“Offensively, we just really have to make the most of our chances,” he added.
The Gladiators will close the season Friday at home against Oakland Mills, where they have a chance to finish second in the county, and earn a No. 1 seed in Section I of the 3A-2A South region
Centennial, which takes on Mt. Hebron on Friday as well, is vying for the same spot.
“We’ll have to play three or four good teams,” Hatmaker said of the playoffs. “The road doesn’t get any easier.”
Glenelg 8, Marriotts Ridge 3
Goals: G – Cheswick (3), Breyer Burford (2), Nick Forrest, Kevin Wynne, Caleb Marshall; MR – Austin Dorsey, Jack Grote, Chase Sanchez.
Assists: G – Marshall (2), Tyler Wasson, Kevin Coppinger, Kevin Wynne; MR – Grant Hanlon.
Saves: G – Landry Marshall 9; MR – Chris McTague 12.
Half: 3-2, Mustangs.