The apprehension and nerve-wrenching thrill from an adrenaline-crazed 24 hours spilled onto the field in one jubilant celebration Wednesday evening, with Marriotts Ridge players launching their sticks sky-high and bum-rushing goalie Colin Kelley.
On Tuesday, the Mustangs pulled out an emotional, double-overtime victory against top seed Glenelg, and not long before the celebratory dogpile came more pressure-packed circumstances against defending 2A/1A state champion Southern. Marriotts Ridge held a lop-sided advantage in nearly every statistical category, yet — spent and drained from the dizzying series of events — couldn’t size the knockout blow on an opponent they pummeled by 12 goals earlier in the season.
But the Mustangs simply clamped down with grit and resilience, ultimately channeling more theatrics. Charlie Reynolds netted the game-winning goal with 3:03 left in regulation and Kelley stifled Southern on its last possession to lift Marriotts Ridge to a 7-6 win and the 2A South region title — its first region championship since 2011.
The Mustangs will play Kent Island on either Friday or Saturday at Northeast High School in Anne Arundel County with a shot at the school’s first state title in history.
“I’m exhausted, man. I’m spent,” Marriotts Ridge coach Tony Incontrera said. “You never had a chance to have the adrenaline drop. The game was so intense [Tuesday]. Turn around today and have a close regional championship game. … The whole time, it was very stressful. That’s the best way to put the last 24 hours.
“It’s been since 2011. It’s the first one I’ve had as a coach. It means everything to me.”
Ellis Gloyd and Brett Gladstone had two goals apiece for Marriotts Ridge. Peter Geier, Logan Frank and Reynolds also managed to score for the Mustangs, who out-shot the Bulldogs 39-15 and won 13 of 17 faceoffs. But those numbers were neutralized by the specular play between the pipes by Southern goalie Hunter Anderson, who smothered scoring-chance after scoring-chance to finish with 15 saves.
“I’m like, ‘Oh my God. This dude is playing out of his mind,’” said Kelley, who made 10 saves of his own.
After a sluggish opening 11 minutes, Southern jumped ahead 1-0 courtesy of a man-up goal by Logan Clingerman with 8.5 seconds left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs’ lead quickly became 2-0 just two minutes into the second quarter when Elias Hutchinson bull-dozed through traffic to find the back of the net.
At that point, Incontrera’s anxiety spiked, realizing his squad was stuck in a hangover from Tuesday’s mentally draining bout.
“That was one of the most physically demanding games I’ve ever played,” Geier said.
Southern also employed a tricky matchup zone that threw Marriotts Ridge a loop and a wrinkle it didn’t see in the first meeting. Incontrera knew the zone would come, but because of the quick turnaround, he couldn’t implement a full game-plan to best exploit it.
“Southern won a state championship last year. They know what they’re doing,” Incontrera said. “They were able to exploit some weaknesses that we had. And they took advantage of what their strengths were on offense.”
After going scoreless the first 15 minutes, Frank, Geier, Gloyd and Gladstone buried four straight goals in a span of 2:07 to lift Marriotts Ridge out of a two-goal deficit and into a 4-2 lead with 6:29 left until halftime.
Gladstone cleaned up a ground ball at the front of the net 56 seconds into the third quarter to extend the lead to 5-2, and after that, all seemed to finally swing in the Mustangs’ favor. That’s when Anderson buckled down in net, not allowing a goal for the next 16:02 and springboarding a 4-0 Southern run that put them ahead 6-5 with 9:09 to go.
Clingerman and Phipps connected on three one-time strikes and Hutchinson added another during the stretch to put Southern on the verge of its fourth straight region title.
“Told my guys at the beginning of the season, we want to be a little bit better every day,” Southern coach Brendan Brace said. “As we got through the season, we got better and better. Lost to them 15-3 earlier in the season, and it was 7-6 today. Had some opportunities. Just didn’t finish them.”
But Gloyd finally got one to drop from straightaway, tying it at 6-6 with 7:02 left in regulation, and four minutes later, Reynolds buried his. The Bulldogs regained possession with 58.5 seconds left and called a timeout, drawing up its play — Phipps-to-Clingerman — hoping it’d work for a fifth.
Phipps, positioned behind the cage, fed a crashing Clingerman at the doorstep. But Kelley snarled the five-hole attempt, and soon after, the school’s third-ever boys’ lacrosse region title had been secured in that one jubilant celebratory stream.
Marriotts Ridge (15-2) — 7, Southern — 6
Goals: MR — Ellis Gloyd 2, Brett Gladstone 2, Peter Geier, Logan Frank, Charlie Reynolds; So — Clingerman 4, Hutinson 2
Assists: MR — Luke Ingersoll 2, Charlie Reynolds, Peter Geier, Troy Hettinger; So — Phipps 4
Saves: MR — Colin Kelley 10; So — Anderson 15
Halftime: 4-2, Marriotts Ridge