‘Be like Brent’: Mount Saint Joseph lacrosse honors late coach Brent Johnson before win over Catonsville

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Before Mount Saint Joseph lacrosse defeated Catonsville, 16-5, on Tuesday, a memorial tribute was held for Brent Johnson.

Johnson was a 1985 Mount Saint Joseph graduate and former Gaels lacrosse coach who died suddenly March 3.


Johnson’s positive, fun-loving attitude and deep desire to win made him an overwhelming favorite for young athletes in the Catonsville and Mount Saint Joseph communities.

Before the game, Johnson’s wife, Julie, sons, Noah and Vaughn, stepdaughter, Chloe, and parents, Barney and Janice, walked out to midfield along with extended family while athletic director Kraig Loovis spoke about Johnson, who wore No. 29 and went 10-5 with the Gaels in 1985.


“Most importantly, Brent was always a family-first man, and for Coach Johnson, the Mount [Saint Joseph] lacrosse program was part of his extended family,” Loovis said. “His enthusiasm eventually led to years of service to the St. Joe lacrosse program as a proud alum, fan, adviser, mentor, recruiter and especially coach. His kindness and care were always present in the smallest of details.”

Loovis recalled a former player telling him, “I want to love Mount Saint Joseph High School as much as Brent Johnson did and be the kind of person he was.”

The athletic director ended the ceremony with words shared by those who knew Johnson, from his childhood home in Catonsville to his recent home of Ocean City.

“May we all look to ‘Be like Brent’ in some small way in our lives and help carry on his legacy,” Loovis said.

Julie Johnson embraces Mount Saint Joseph lacrosse player Danny McGuire during a tribute for her late husband, former Gaels lacrosse assistant coach Brent Johnson, before Tuesday's game against Catonsville. At left is Brent Johnson’s son Vaughn.

Gaels coach Tyler Reid was one of many who wore No. 29 jerseys during the game and spoke about Johnson’s influence on getting him to coach at the school.

“The main reason that I’m at Mt. Saint Joe is really because of Brent,” Reid said. “He was the reason that I decided to step away from coaching college lacrosse and decided to come here. There is something about this school and the community here, and we talked a lot about family and brotherhood and Coach Johnson, everything he did was about this program.”

Catonsville coach KR Schultz had met Johnson through the lacrosse community.

“He was an awesome, awesome guy, always great to me, especially when he was coaching at Mt. St. Joe and I was first starting at Catonsville,” Schultz said. “He was a great resource for me to kind of learn about the kids, even Catonsville kids, like he knew just from being a Catonsville guy that I didn’t know because I wasn’t from here when I first took over. He helped bring me up to speed on some of the Catonsville guys. He was a great guy, he will definitely be missed.”


After both teams posed for a picture together with Johnson’s family, the teams started nervously with early turnovers.

The Gaels got on the board first with 7:29 left in the first quarter on an unassisted goal by Maddux Walton.

It was the first of eight consecutive goals by seven Gaels in the first half as faceoff specialists Andrew Rippeon and Garrett Conley dominated.

“Winning on the X, that’s where it matters,” Conley said.

Mount Saint Joseph's Owen Cooper shoots against Catonsville goalkeeper Gabe Wallman during Tuesday's game.

“Possession time was crucial and we had incredible faceoff play today from both of our guys and Garrett Conley really stepped up with two goals,” Reid said, noting that Conley wore Johnson’s No. 29. “When he picked that number this year, he had no idea that was the number that Coach wore when he was here and for him to have the game that he had today, it’s something really special.”

Added Conley: “I wore it this year because I wanted 29 and I didn’t know anything about it and then Coach passed away and obviously I’m going to keep it. It was 100% part of the inspiration because our coach passing away and this was a game we lost last year by one and he really wanted it more than anybody.”


Johnson was on the sideline last season at Catonsville when the Comets won, 9-8, and he took the loss hard because of his passion for the players.

“He was a players’ coach,” Reid said. “He wanted to make sure every guy could set goals and achieve them, and there is something truly incredible about that, because his smile and that positive energy he brought every day. Across the board, every single guy in this program knew the significance of this game, it’s a crosstown rivalry, and obviously today, dedicating that to Coach Johnson.”

Walton led the Gaels with three goals. Conley, Tyler Supercynski, Owen Craney, Corey Myers, Alex Clyde and Aidan Addison had two each, while Johns Spears chipped in one.

After the Gaels’ eight-goal rush, the Comets answered with three straight goals in the second quarter.

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Nate Wess assisted Eric Kaplan for the first and Will Roberson assisted Colin Fox for the second. Dylan Stevenson scored the third before the offense went dormant. John Gorski, off an assist from Noah Kennedy, and Kaplan scored late, but it wasn’t enough.

After the game four players were named as MVPs. They were Mount Saint Joseph’s Walton (attack) and Myers (midfield) and Catonsville’s Gorski (defense) and Gabe Wallman (goalie).


The Comets (2-1) will try to get back on track when they play Eastern Tech on Wednesday at CCBC Essex. The Gaels play at Loyola Blakefield on Friday night in their Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference opener.

But neither team will ever forget the game they played in honor of a legendary coach who impacted the lives of so many athletes.

“A lot of these guys have grown up playing with each other and there is a lot of pride in this game and there is a lot of passion and you see it on both sides of the ball,” Reid said. “Both teams give 110% and I give it to Catonsville, they came out here and they were flying around.”

For Schultz, the game was about much more than winning or losing.

“Lacrosse is the medicine game,” he said. “It was a horribly sad situation, but it was a beautiful way to honor him on a gorgeous day and Brent would have wanted MSJ to win.”