Trailing 4-0 at halftime, Mt. Hebron knew it needed to do a lot differently in the second half to come back and defeat Linganore in the 3A/2A boys lacrosse state championship game at Stevenson University.
And the Vikings did. In fact, they rallied to cut the Lancers’ lead to one three different times, but time and time again Linganore had an answer.
Mt. Hebron did everything it could in the second half to overcome the slow start but ultimately it wasn’t enough, as the Lancers led wire to wire to take home their second-ever state title Tuesday night and first since 2011 with a 9-7 victory.
“I preached to them that they were destined to win a state championship if the coaches didn’t mess it up,” said Lancers coach Rich Thompson. “... We usually have a little meeting before we get on the bus. I knew then that we were going to be fine. I saw a room full of focused young men who just had win in their eyes.”
The Vikings scored five goals in the third quarter to cut Linganore’s lead to 6-5, but Mt. Hebron never could quite get the goal to tie things up. The teams traded the next four goals to make it 8-7, but Lancers senior Daniel Ross – an Army commit – buried his fifth goal of the evening to extend the lead to two with 3 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.
“Hebron really started to pick it up and exploit weaknesses in our defense,” said Linganore goalie Kyle Browne (15 saves). “A lot of times we forgot to communicate ... They started picking up momentum until we started picking things up and get it back and start playing our game.”
Mt. Hebron (13-6) had several chances late but couldn’t put another one past Browne before time ran out and the Lancers flung gear onto the field and celebrated on the field with a dog-pile.
“They’re a good team. They were 18-1 for a reason,” said Vikings coach Mike McCarthy. “... We knew we had to battle to win. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short.
“They almost always had an answer. We cut it to one three times and I feel like there were some opportunities that we did not take advantage of.”
Falling in a 4-0 hole ultimately proved too much to overcome for Mt. Hebron, though the team didn’t roll over. Ross scored early in the first quarter and then Linganore (19-1) started to dominate in the second. Two goals from Murphy and another from Ross pushed the lead to 4, and the Lancers outshot the Vikings 16 to 6 in the stanza.
“Right off the bat we came out with four goals and we knew immediately that we could do this,” said Ross. “We felt like we were the better team and we felt that in the beginning and came out fast. I think that was a big factor; we came out quick.”
McCarthy said his team was tentative to pick up ground balls because of Linganore’s athleticism, but everything changed in the third quarter, as Mt. Hebron won seven of eight face-offs in the period and won 10 of 15 ground balls to slowly climb its way back into it.
Senior Chris Munko scored the first one for the Vikings with 7:18 left in the third quarter, and after the Lancers pushed the lead to 5-1, Mt. Hebron netted four of the next five goals – including two by senior Dylan Scheeler – to cut the deficit to 6-5 heading into the final 12 minutes.
“I think in the second half we really battled for ground balls, especially at the face-off ‘X,’ and you saw with more possessions and more opportunities came – we had seven goals in the second half,” McCarthy said. “We had good shots in the first half; their goalie (Browne) made four kick saves. ... They got good doorstep goals and we got 12-15 yard shots. Good shots, but they had better opportunities.”
Scheeler, who transferred to Mt. Hebron from St. Mary’s Ryken during the summer, led the Vikings with three goals to finish the year with a team-high 38, while senior Kyle Sutton pitched in two goals in the losing effort and ends his season with 26.
Senior goalie Casey DuBois was the main reason the Vikings were even in the state championship game, and he largely held the Lancers’ offense – which was averaging more than 12 goals per game – in check.
The Vikings went through a lot on and off the field this season and McCarthy said his team learned more than just X’s and O’s. There were many lessons learned in the last three months.
“They’ve learned invaluable lessons about life,” he said. “Facing adversity, facing loss and sticking up for one another and sticking together. Getting up every day and facing it head on and attacking life. No matter what anybody says, no matter what anybody does, you do you. You can’t worry about it. Take care of what you can take care of.”
Linganore (19-1) – 9, Mt. Hebron (13-6) – 7
Goals: L – Daniel Ross 5, Daniel Murphy 2, Brett Cruickshan, Alex Martinazzi; MH – Dylan Scheeler 3, Kyle Sutton 2, Scott Mackrell, Chris Munko
Assists: L – Jordan Swoyer 2, Ross; MH – Bryce Brookhart, Sutton
Saves: L – Kyle Browne 15; MH – Casey DuBois 12
Halftime: 4-0, Linganore