The biggest lacrosse game of BJ Farrare’s life started with nerves and a challenge.
It was his sophomore season at McDonogh in 2016, when the Eagles were vying for their first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship since 2005. Emerging as one of the area’s top long-stick midfielders, he was standing on the wing for the opening faceoff of the title game hearing the Boys’ Latin bench question how good he was.
The recent McDonogh grad set out to show the Lakers.
“That first faceoff, I was a little nervous walking over to the sideline and someone was there telling me I’m too small, I can’t play and to go sit on the bench,” he said. “At that point, I was just like ‘OK, it’s time to prove myself,’ ”
With game-changing plays in the middle of the field — he collected five ground balls and caused four turnovers — Farrare was the spark in helping the Eagles to the championship win, 8-5.
“I would say that is one of the best moments of my life,” he said. “No question.”
Farrare was an All-Metro first-team pick that season and has been a regular there ever since. In closing out a standout four-year varsity career, he displayed versatility — also playing as a short-stick defensive midfielder and on defense — explosive speed and fine instincts.
Also a standout football player, he plans to play football and lacrosse at Penn. First, he gets to soak in one more high school honor playing in the 13th annual Under Armour All-America Boys Lacrosse Game, set for 8 p.m. on June 30 at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field.
“I feel without my teammates, coach [Andy Hilgartner], my mom and dad, I wouldn’t have this opportunity without their support,” he said. “I’m excited to go against the best players in the country. It’ll be a fun experience. I get to play alongside [McDonogh teammate Jack] Simmons, too, so it will be really fun.”
Hilgartner said no McDonogh player has had a greater impact on the program than Farrare, and it goes far beyond his special skill set.
“We’ve had some great four-year varsity players come through the program, but he’s clearly the most versatile player we’ve ever had, and that continually showed. He’s a guy that can turn games around and impact it in so many ways,” Hilgartner said. “He always showed how much he cared about his teammates and the program as a whole. He loves to be around his teammates, loves to work out and that set a great example for the other players.”
On the lacrosse field, the bigger the challenge, the better, and Hilgartner was always confident sending them Farrare’s way. As a freshman, he was asked to mark Boys’ Latin standout senior attackman Pat Spencer in the playoff semifinals, limiting him to one assist. In the championship season that followed, Farrare was tasked to limit Lakers standout Greg Ey. That became the four-year norm.
“We all see that his natural athletic ability is phenomenal — his speed and strength jumps out to you,” said St. Paul’s coach Trey Whitty, who was the Eagles defensive coordinator in Farrare’s first three seasons. “But what most people don’t see, which I saw and his teammates and coaches saw every day, is his natural instincts for the game are just as phenomenal. That’s why he has the ability to play multiple positions — the game comes naturally to him. He sees plays ahead of time and that’s what separates him.”
What Farrare enjoys most about lacrosse is the relationships that are formed among teammates and coaches, and the togetherness that comes to make a great team.
“I like to take as much as I can and put it on my back because I feel I can help my teammates that way,” Farrare said. “My mentality on defense is to win my matchup, support my guys and do the best we can to not allow goals. And then I try to help create for our offensive players to get their confidence going.”
Simmons, a standout midfielder also set to play in the All-America game, is excited to step onto the field one last time with Farrare before heading to Virginia to begin his college career.
”BJ is one of the most special athletes I’ve ever been around, but he’s also one of the best teammates off the field. No matter what the situation, he’s there for you,” Simmons said. “If you haven’t seen him play that many times, it’s like ‘Oh, my gosh, he’s amazing.’ But then when you see it in practice every day it’s, ‘Wow, he can do that all the time.’ It’s rarely he’ll have a day or game when he’s not making big plays.”