It was fitting that Tuesday's 100th meeting between the Boys' Latin and St. Paul's lacrosse teams — arguably the sport's best high school rivalry — had plenty of meaning in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference standings as well.
It was equally fitting that it was a picture-perfect day for the regular-season finale at St. Paul's Tullai Field with an overflow crowd that was treated to a well-played, one-goal game.
The record book will show that Boys' Latin senior midfielder Koby Russell scored the winning goal — converting a feed from fellow senior Luke Shilling with 8:38 to play. The No. 3 Lakers had to fend off one final St. Paul's possession in the last minute before securing a 10-9 win in Brooklandville.
Minutes later, the Lakers were all piled together in the middle of the field with the Darrell-Ehrhardt Alumni Cup in hand in celebration. Boys' Latin has a 52-47-1 lead in the series that began in 1933. .
"The lacrosse gods were looking down on us today," Boys' Latin coach Brian Farrell said. "It was an absolutely electric atmosphere, two historic programs battling in the [100th meeting] on a beautiful day in a one-goal game. Is there a better storyline than that?" I don't think it can get better than that."
The win ends a two-game slide for Boys' Latin and secures second place and a first-round bye in the MIAA playoffs. The Lakers (13-5, 7-2) will advance straight to Monday's semifinals at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.
St. Paul's (14-5, 5-4) finishes in fourth place and will open at home in Friday's quarterfinals against fifth-seeded Loyola Blakefield.
On Tuesday, Shilling finished with one goal and four assists; Russell and senior Greg Ey each had two goals; and Chris Brandau had nine saves to lead the Lakers. Freshman Payton Giberson capably handled some of the faceoff chores, winning eight out of 14 to provide a big lift.
"I know we've been looking at games one at a time, but this game has been in our minds all year," Shilling said. "The 100th BL-St. Paul's game — everybody that goes to BL knows what a big game it is for us. And I was saying to the guys before that we weren't just playing for us, but everybody that wore this jersey before us. Coming out here and having the big crowd, it just amped me up and made it that much better, that much important."
It was Ey who provided the early game-changer after the Lakers fell behind 3-0 with less than five minutes left in the first quarter.
The Lakers called timeout and on the ensuing faceoff, Ey scooped the ground ball, raced to the cage and whipped in a goal that proved settling for the visitors.
"Coach Farrell called a timeout and brought everybody in just to settle everybody down. I think we were just so anxious and overwhelmed from the huge crowd and venue. So I came on the wing, got the ground ball and I just pushed it and let it go," Ey said.
The Lakers overcame a two-goal deficit in the second quarter — getting goals from Shilling and Konner Caplin with 1:02 to play in the first half to pull even at 6 going into intermission.
When it appeared the Lakers were taking hold in the third quarter, going up 9-7 on a goal from Matt Brandau with 4:30 left, it was the Crusaders' turn to rally.
Logan Posner scored his fourth goal and Logan Zimnoch (two goals, one assist) followed to tie at 9 going into the fourth quarter.
With 8:38 left, Shilling, parked behind the cage, got the ball to Russell, who went high to beat St. Paul's goalie Alex Rode for the 10-9 lead. The Lakers had the ball a lot in the remaining time in protecting the lead — Rode making two big saves to keep it a one-goal game. It gave the Crusaders one last chance in the final minute, but Posner had one shot go wide and he and Jack Brocato had shots skim off the post in their bid to tie.
"Instant classic and it typically is between these two schools — that's why the rivalry is what it is," said St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato, who is retiring at season's end, but is assured one more home game on Friday.
"It's really special. I don't think I can really put it in words, I've been trying for so long to put it into words. It's such a special rivalry and special game — this is what I'm going to miss. Two teams going toe to toe that have a lot of respect for each other that want to beat each other in between the lines — that's high school sports."
Goals: BL – Ey, 2, Russell 2, Shilling, M. Brandau, McNemar, Caplin, Grimes, Aburn; SP – Posner 4, Zimnoch 2, Barthelme, Cabral, Pearl. Assists: BL – Shilling 4, M. Brandau; SP – Pearl 4, Barthelme, Zimnoch. Saves: BL – C. Brandau 9; SP – Rode 5. Half: 6-6
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified one of the St. Paul's players having shots miss near the end of the game.