All season, the Poly boys lacrosse team has prided itself on playing as hard in the fourth quarter as the first, relying on conditioning to stay a step ahead of the competition in Baltimore City.
In Friday's first-ever Baltimore City championship game at Northwestern, the Engineers did exactly that once again.
With goalie Nicholas Kostas finishing with 22 saves and Malik Embree providing much of the timely offense with three second-half goals, Poly pulled away from Northwestern in the final minutes to capture the crown with an 8-5 win.
Poly improves to 10-0 on the season, handing the Wildcats their first loss after 10 wins.
"It feels great. We put a lot of effort in and towards the end we really came together as a team. We won the Baltimore City championship, made history," said Kostas.
It didn't come easy for the Engineers, who led throughout the game until Northwestern's Lafonte Livingston (three goals) scored consecutive goals 13 seconds apart to give the Wildcats a 5-4 lead with 6:51 to play.
Poly was quick to answer and then took over.
Sharif Bendy tied the game 23 seconds later, and then Embree took a pass from Nicholas Edwards (two goals, one assist) to give the Engineers a lead that would stand for the remaining six minutes. Kostas turned aside a shot by Kier Johnson with 3:14 to play and then Steve Roberts and Embree iced the game with goals in the final two-plus minutes.
Poly coach Ray Harcum was impressed by the challenge Northwestern presented, praised his team's fourth-quarter energy and had plenty of words for the performance he got from Kotsas in goal.
"Nicholas saved the day for us," he said. "If we didn't have him today, we wouldn't be happy right now."
Baltimore City championship
Poly 8, Northwestern 5
Goals: P – Embree 3, Edwards 2, Bendy, Roberts, McDonald; N – L. Livingston 3, Gatling , A. Livingston.
Assists: P – Edwards, McDonald; N – K. Johnson 2, A. Livinston, Gatling, T. Johnson.
Saves: P – Kostas 22; N – Brown 8.
Half: P, 3-2.