After surrendering a seven-goal lead in a loss to South River in last year's state championship, the Westminster boys lacrosse team vowed to return to the final game this season.
The No. 8 Owls will do that with a chance to finish with a perfect record.
A dominating offensive performance in Saturday's Class 4A-3A state semifinal against Winston Churchill assured the return trip for the Owls, who scored the first 11 goals in the second half against the Bulldogs, from Montgomery County, to pull away for a 23-9 win at Franklin.
Ryan Drenner (six goals, three assists) led the Owls (18-0) offensively, while CJNichols scored five goals. Ryan Hursey added two goals and two assists for Westminster, and Nick McDonough had two goals and two assists.
Westminster gets the chance to avenge last year's 10-8 loss to defending Class4A-3A state champion South River, which advanced with a 15-6 win over Howard in Saturday's other semifinal. The state title game will take place 8 p.m. Wednesday at UMBC.
“Since that game ended last year, it's never left my mind — every game, every practice, every time I work out, I always think about that game,” said Drenner, who scored the first two goals in the third quarter to quickly increase the Owls' lead to 11-8 on Saturday. “South River is a great team. I'd love to get some revenge on them. They have serious ballers on their team, so we're going to have to do our thing.”
The Owls came into Saturday averaging more than 16 goals per game, and Churchill (15-2) did everything it could to keep up in the first half.
But the Westminster defense buckled down on Bulldogs standout Matt Leonard — he scored all six of his goals in the first half — and the Owls put on an impressive display on attack to coast to a second straight appearance in the championship game as they seek the program's first title.
No. 10 South River 15, Howard 6: South River boys lacrosse coach Paul Noone's plan is simple — attack the opposition in waves.
The fresh legs kept coming as 12 Seahawks scored at least one point in a 15-6 victory over Howard in Saturday's Class 4A-3A state semifinals at Annapolis.
Sophomore Brandon Senft had five goals and an assist, while senior Ben Chisolm finished with four goals and three assists for the No. 10 Seahawks (17-3).
Cody Ford scored three goals to pace the Lions, who ended the season with a 16-3 record and the program's first regional title.
South River broke a 2-2 tie with three straight goals in the last 26 seconds of the first quarter.
Matt Gaskins started the run with a jump shot in front of the goal. Senft scored quickly on a restart, and Michael Ward added a goal with eight seconds left in the quarter.
From that point, the Seahawks controlled the game. Nick Striebich scored for the Lions early in the third quarter to cut the Seahawks' lead to 8-5, but Howard never got closer.
Patterson Mill 9, Oakdale 0: In Class 2A-1A, Patterson Mill (11-9) advanced to the championship game for the second time in three years with a shutout victory over Oakdale (10-9) at Bel Air on Saturday.
Three players — junior attackman Chase Tallon, senior midfielder Sam Caretti and junior midfielder Michael Dinatale — scored two goals each to lead the Huskies, who will face defending Class 2A-1A state champion Fallston (15-4) in the title game 6 p.m. Tuesday at UMBC.
Patterson Mill junior goalkeeper Will Urban had seven saves, while Oakdale senior goalkeeper John Hoffman stopped 11 shots in the loss.
Senior attackman Brendan Egan had one goal and five assists for the Huskies, while senior attackman Josh Wilson and senior midfielder Patrick Springer added one goal each.
Patterson Mill lost to Glenelg, 5-4, in the Class 2A-1A state championship in 2011, and South Carroll eliminated the Huskies, 6-4, in the state semifinals last season. Fallston then beat the Cavaliers, 14-7, to win last year's Class 2A-1A title.
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Brandon Hopp contributed to this article.
8 Westminster 23, Churchill 9
Goals: C – Leonard 6, Altobello, Dubick, Moshyedi; W—Drenner 6, Nichols 5, Davis 4, Hursey 2, McDonough 2, Uhlman 2, Kohr, Ruby.
Assists: C—Rhodes; W—Hursey 4, Drenner 3, McDonough 2. Saves: C— Gloger 8; W – Aler 7. Half: W, 9-8.
10 South River 15, Howard 6
Goals: SR—Senft 5, Chisolm 4, Gaskins 2, Chaney, Schimolar, Thomas, Ward,; Ho – Ford 3, Striebich 2, Sementilli. Assists: SR – Chisholm 3, Hirata, Mansur, O'Hara, Pendleton, Schimolar, Senft, Stanton, Thomas; Ho—Bruner 2, Travisano 2. Saves: SR—Gavin 8; Ho—Judy 11. Half: SR, 8-4.
(at Bel Air)
Patterson Mill 9, Oakdale 0
Goals: PM—Caretti 2, Dinatale 2, Tallon 2, Egan, Springer, Wilson. Assists: PM—Egan 5, Holloway, Springer, Tallon, Wilson. Saves: PM—Urban 7. O—Hoffman 11. Half: PM, 6-0.