Boys Lacrosse: Owls 'have our hands full' with Bulldogs in state semis

Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

Westminster boys lacrosse coach Steve DeFeo might be having flashbacks.

The Owls are putting together a postseason run now like they did in 2013 — the year the program won the Class 4A-3A state championship.

Westminster continues its play playoff push in the state semifinals Saturday when the Owls clash with Winston Churchill of Montgomery County at 4 p.m. at Gaithersburg High School.

This much is certain: Churchill is a formidable opponent.

The Bulldogs — ranked No. 6 in the Washington Post high school boys lacrosse poll —boast a 17-1 record. Their loss came to Bethesda's Landon School, the top-ranked team in the D.C. area.

The Bulldogs' players have something the Owls don't, and that's experience playing in the state semifinals and championship game. Churchill lost in the semis last season to eventual champion Severna Park. The year before, Howard thumped the Bulldogs, 14-6, in the state final.

"They have a wonderful program. Year after year, they are in this situation," DeFeo said. "They have an enormous amount of talent. We definitely have our hands full. We really have [be] ready to play lacrosse or we are going to be in serious trouble. We have to limit our mistakes and play solid lacrosse in order to walk away with a win."

Churchill figures to rely heavily on face-off specialist Merrick Willeford against Westminster. The freshman won 19 of 22 face-offs to lead Churchill past Quince Orchard, 16-4, Wednesday in the 4A-3A West Region final.

The Bulldogs also received a strong performance from junior midfielder Brady Altobelli, who totaled three goals and three assists.

The Owls have plenty of standout players, too.

They'll counter Willeford with junior face-off specialist Brandon Kim, who won 13 of 18 in the "X" in a 13-6 rout of Bel Air in the regional final Wednesday to help his team extend its winning streak to eight games.

He secured eight face-offs in the first half as the Owls (16-1) built a five-goal lead at the break.

DeFeo would like to see balanced scoring for the remainder of the playoffs.

The Owls — who average 16 goals a game — certainly have it with a lineup that features sophomores Bubba Love (40 goals, 36 assists) and Chase Buckwalter (17, 27) and senior Ryan McManus (41, 21), freshman Conner Covey (34, six) and junior Alec Kozlowski (43, 25).

The Bulldogs can dominate offensively as well. They have racked 239 goals.

The Owls hope to see a score similar to the last time they faced Churchill played.

Westminster beat the Bulldogs, who will be playing the day after their prom, 23-9 in the 2013 state semifinals before downing South River in the final to cap an undefeated season at 19-0.

"There are similarities," DeFeo said. "We have a very athletic team like the 2013 team. Both were made up of guys where lacrosse was their primary sport."

NOTE: Friday night's Class 2A-1A state semifinal between Liberty and South Carroll was postponed because of bad weather. The game is rescheduled for today at 2 p.m. at Northeast High School in Anne Arundel County.

tworgo@baltsun.com

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