On Tuesday, the No. 1 Boys' Latin lacrosse team took time to savor another impressive accomplishment.
Immediately after comfortably defeating their biggest rival, No. 2 St. Paul's, by an 18-12 score on Senior Day, the Lakers celebrated with the student section on their home field.
Not only did the win clinch the top seed in the upcoming Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs, it marked a second straight season the team plowed through its demanding regular season with a perfect record, this time finishing 16-0.
And while the Lakers were unable to complete last season's ultimate task — falling to Loyola in the championship game to finish 19-1 — the combined two seasons of excellence deserved to be recognized.
"It hadn't been done too often in the league, so that is pretty special," Boys' Latin coach Bob Shriver said of the consecutive undefeated regular seasons. "Certainly we hope we can finish better this year. The league is just too good. To win in the league you've got to be good — and we were and are now — and you've got to hit luck at the right times, too.
"Maybe we ran out of it a little bit at the end and Loyola played great in the championship game. But to not think about what they've accomplished over this two-year period would be totally unfair to them because it's been remarkable."
Senior Hunter Moreland dominated on faceoffs to get the area's most potent attack the ball on Tuesday. A surplus of goals followed.
Senior All-Metro attackman Shack Stanwick scored three goals and assisted on five more and fellow seniors Keegan O'Connor and Colin Chell each had three goals as the Lakers built a 15-6 lead after three quarters. It was more than enough cushion to survive a strong fourth quarter from the Crusaders.
Boys' Latin finished with a 9-0 league record to gain the top seed in the playoffs, while St. Paul's (12-6) settled for the second seed with a 7-2 mark. Both teams earned byes for Friday's quarterfinal round and will jump into semifinal play on Tuesday.
The Lakers, also ranked No. 1 nationally, have once again set a high standard as the team to beat in the postseason.
With Tuesday's game tied at 1, they got six straight goals from different players to take a commanding 7-1 lead with 16 second left in the first quarter. The lead steadily increased to 14-4 — the Lakers' biggest — when Stanwick scored with 3:01 to play in the third quarter.
St. Paul's All-Metro senior attackman Mikey Wynne, who finished with five goals and an assist, helped the Crusaders close the gap to 15-8 with 11:41 to play, but Moreland won consecutive faceoffs and the Lakers put in two more goals to end any further suspense.
"This game was more than the BL-St.Paul's rivalry, it was for the No. 1 seed," Stanwick said. "We knew coming in they would be really good and they showed that today, especially in the fourth quarter when they made it a close game. But it feels really good to be undefeated in the regular season."
Stanwick is determined to make sure the Lakers end this season on a happier note.
"I think we just have to keep doing what we've been doing," he said. "We've done well to start off early. I think in a couple games we've let up a little in the second half, so we just need to keep our foot on the pedal and make smarter decisions."
The Crusaders can take positive feelings into the postseason with their strong second half on Tuesday.
"We kept fighting, we kept working hard," St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato said. "We really feel like we can score when we have the ball, so I think there are positives moving forward. Our kids don't quit, they haven't quit all year. We've had four or five comebacks and so we're going to be ready to play. We earned that bye and we're going to be ready to play on Tuesday."
No. 1 Boys' Latin 18, No. 2 St. Paul's 12
Goals: SP – Wynne 5, Flaig 3, Witzler, Anderson, Riehl, Pollard;
BL – Stanwick 3, O'Connor 3, Chell 3, Bruno 2, Moyer, Dempsey, Moreland, Brown 2, Peters, Shewell.
Assists: SP – Anderson 2, Wynne, Rockhill;
BL – Stanwick 5, Shewell, Spencer 2.
Saves: SP – Barretto 13;
BL – Pezzulla 9.
Half: BL, 12-3Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun