Jacob Stover a successful athlete like his dad, but he prevents goals rather than kicking field goals

Jacob Stover eschewed father Matt's sport to become a top lacrosse goalie.

Jacob Stover remembers the confetti, but the rest of the night was mostly a blur.

He was 5 years old in 2001 when the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV, and his father, Matt Stover, was the hometown's Pro Bowl kicker.

So when victory was in hand, Matt Stover ran past the end zone and jumped on a halftime show speaker to reach over the railing and grab Jacob and his sister, Jenna, from the stands. Soon after, the confetti poured down on the field.

The Ravens have brought happiness to Baltimore over the years.

In Jacob Stover's case, they brought the Stover family to lacrosse-rich Baltimore.

So the recent McDonogh grad, now 19 and an All-Metro first-team goalie this spring, was recently asked: If the franchise doesn't move from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996, do you think you would be playing lacrosse?

"I know, seriously!" he replied loudly with a smile. "No, I'm probably not playing lacrosse."

Not only does Stover play lacrosse, he plays it extremely well.

After leading No. 2 McDonogh (14-5) to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game, he was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic. Stover will represent the South team in the 10th annual game Friday at 8 p.m. at Towson University.

"It was one of my goals throughout my high school career, to play in this game," said Stover, who has signed to play at Loyola Maryland next year. "I remember watching [former McDonogh standout goalie] Tyler Fiorito when I was in fifth grade and others more recently. To be in that event and play at that high level, which I will be seeing the next four years, is unbelievable. It's a blessing and a great opportunity."

Stover gets the same question all the time: Have you ever kicked a football?

He did, from the fourth to eighth grade. He was good at it, but says he didn't have a dominating leg and others were a little bigger and stronger and could kick a little farther. He also never had the passion needed to perfect a craft he watched his father do so well.

But he did get a valuable firsthand look at the time his father put in working to become one of the finest kickers in the NFL.

And when his youth lacrosse coach threw him in the goal shortly after he started playing lacrosse around the same time the Ravens won that Super Bowl, the younger Stover found his own niche.

"I just wanted to empower him as a father and do whatever I could," Matt Stover said. "If he wanted to be a kicker and wanted me to help him, I'd do it. And there were times when I did. But I wasn't going to force him because it's got to be his. As a father and a parent, you want to give your children opportunities. So my job was to guide him through those opportunities to wherever he would land. Jacob absolutely fell in love with lacrosse."

It showed on the lacrosse field at McDonogh this spring.

In his second season starting on varsity, Stover led a brand-new defense that didn't have another senior. The Eagles allowed fewer than eight goals per game and Stover finished with 169 saves while providing vocal guidance, precise clears and confidence.

"One of the things that I've always been impressed with by Jacob is his leadership and how he leads by first serving his teammates," McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner said. "Jacob played with great confidence the whole season. He was playing with a very young defense in front of him and he always did his best to keep encouraging them, keep confidence in them and talking them through difficult situations."

Being successful as a lacrosse goalie and football kicker are a lot alike.

There's the quest to be perfect — and the need to be resilient when you are not.

Many plays make the difference in a game in both sports, but it often seems to come down to the kicker and goalie. Matt Stover made many more clutch field goals than he missed and his son made many more game-changing saves than not.

"It's very similar about the mental toughness. You've got to put in the work to be ready and comfortable and confident in those positions," Jacob Stover said. "As a goalie and a kicker, you wait for those moments to be the game-changer, the guy to make the play. It can be a 42-yard field goal or a guy gets a shot off right at the crease and you stuff him."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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