The classification may have changed, but for Glenelg the run continues. For the sixth straight year, this time with an 11-6 victory over Marriotts Ridge on Wednesday, the Gladiators captured themselves a region title. And as guys like senior Nick Wynne point out, even as the program made the jump from 2A/1A up to the 3A/2A this spring, region championships have become the expectation.
"For us it doesn't matter if we're in 4A, 3A or 2A, we've just got to go out and win," Wynne said. "The (opposing) teams may be different, but we just focus on the task at hand. That's the way we're coached and that's what we do."
While Glenelg has itself back in familiar territory, Howard finds itself still waiting for the elusive first trip to the state final four. The Lions, which advanced to the region finals for the second straight year, lost to Bel Air, 14-8, in the 4A/3A South region championship game Wednesday.
That leaves Glenelg (16-2) as the only county team still standing in the playoffs, with the state semifinals scheduled for Saturday at noon at Annapolis High School against Kent Island.
Marriotts Ridge (14-3) coach Dan Sageman knew the first quarter was going to be critical against Glenelg and, to that end, the Mustangs came flying out of the gates. Winning the opening face off, Marriotts Ridge brought the ball down and controlled possession for the first four minutes.
But of the five straight shots the Mustangs managed, none found the net and suddenly it was the Gladiators with the chance to strike first.
"Our main thing was to try and get that one or two goal lead, because it's evident we can play with these guys. For whatever reason, though, we just couldn't finish," Marriotts Ridge coach Dan Sageman said. "Their goalie played well, made a bunch of saves, but we missed a ton too."
With Glenelg goalie Landry Marshall (10 saves) coming through with a couple key early stops, the Gladiators eventually transitioned up field and were able to make their opportunities count.
Mikey Wynne scored off a pass from Mark Darden with 6:51 left in the first quarter to open the scoring and that started a run of three straight Glenelg goals.
"We have confidence in our defense that they are going to make stops and eventually that ball is going to get ahead to our offense," Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker said. "Marriotts Ridge came out ready and they're a good team, but once we settle in and get the ball (offensively) with our hands free we are lethal."
Glenelg ended up leading 4-2 after the first quarter and 6-4 going into halftime.
It was in the third quarter, though, that things really started breaking open. Nick and Mikey Wynne each scored unassisted tallies in the first three minutes of the period to make it 8-4.
And as the Gladiators offense kept rolling, their defense picked things up on the other end. Marriotts Ridge didn't get its first goal of the second half until 4:44 remained in the third quarter and it was another 15 minutes after that before the Mustangs found the net again.
"That backside, which was working for them, we shut that off and Ben Carta did a great job on Sean Harrison, who is one of the best kids in the county," Marshall said. "We forced them into bad shots and when they got through I was able to save them."
Glenelg upped its lead to six goals, 11-5, late in the fourth quarter before ending up with the five-goal margin of victory. The six goals for Marriotts Ridge, which came in with a 12-game winning streak, was its third lowest total of the year.
"I thought we gave them a couple goals, but we made them burn three or four minutes each time to get them," Hatmaker said. "When they're playing from behind, that's almost as good as stalling."
Nick Wynne ended up leading the way for Glenelg with four goals and two assists, followed closely by Mikey Wynne's three-goal day. Bryan Sullivan (2 goals, assist) was Marriotts Ridge's offensive leader.
Bel Air (11-5) wasted little time putting Howard (13-5) on its heels, scoring early and often on its way to an 8-2 lead at the half.
The visiting Bobcats, which were led by Carson Kalama's five goals and three assists, made a point of starting fast to get the home crowd out of it early.
"We definitely knew we had to jump on them, start off quick, and that's what we did by punching in five early goals," Kalama said.
Even as it went ahead, Bel Air kept its foot on the accelerator. At one point in the third quarter, the score had ballooned up to double digits in favor of the Bobcats. The deficit was the largest of the season for the Lions.
"It just seemed at one point in the game that nothing was going our way and a lot of credit to them for playing a big part in that," Howard coach Jimmy Creighton said. "They came out fired up and they dominated play."
Howard did close the game strong, closing to within five, 14-8, by the final whistle. Dan Kaplan and Nick Striebich ended up leading the way for the Lions with three goals apiece. Ultimately, it simply wasn't enough to get the program over that hump and into the state semifinals.
"From day one our goal has been to be playing in games like this, now the ultimate goal is to win games like this," Creighton said. "I'm absolutely proud of my team, they've played great and played hard all year long … but I'm not satisfied. I don't think anyone is going to be satisfied until we get that ultimate goal."
Glenelg 11, Marriotts Ridge 6
Goals: G - N. Wynne 4, M. Wynne 3, Darden 2, Wasson, Forrest; MR - Sullivan 2, Williams, Harrison, Kerr, Bradley.
Assists: G - N. Wynne 2, Wasson 2, Darden; MR - Sullivan, Williams, Bradley.
Saves: G - Marshall 10; MR - Schwarz 6.
Half: 6-4 G.
Bel Air 14, Howard 8
Goals: BA - Kalama 5, Hollenback 2, Jones 2, Fleagle 2, Creaghan, Bush, Hopkins; Ho - Kaplan 3, Striebich 3, Keohane, Wendt.
Assists: BA - Creaghan 3, Kalama 2, Hollenback, Bush; Ho - Mills 2, Gerus.
Saves: BA - Hanley 7; Ho - Mauser 9.
Half: 8-2 BA.