When Dulaney was eliminated by Catonsville in the boys lacrosse playoffs last year, Dulaney coach Kyle Fiat had a message for his squad whose late four-goal rally fell one goal short in the 7-6 loss.
“I just told the guys, this is what is so exciting about sports and ultimately life, when you think things are going the wrong direction, you keep fighting and you chip your way right back in and that’s true about sports and that’s true about life too,” he said.
Those were the last meaningful words the 17 junior players heard after a high school game in 2019.
They may be the words they take away from their senior year after the coronavirus pandemic forced the closing of schools and stoppage of athletics for six weeks through April 24.
“I think that you’ve go to hold on to the small glimpse of hope that there is, but unfortunately the reality is not looking all that positive,” Fiat said. “But at the end of the day, I think the message has been accepted that there are right now certainly more important things that we need to be doing with ourselves.”
Fiat did get to watch his team in a joint practice and relaxed scrimmage with IMG Academy from Florida on March 10 and was looking forward to a scrimmage against Bel Air on March 13 and a team photo on March 14.
“We were really hopeful that we were going to get that scrimmage on Friday and than get team photos,” Fiat said. “We had a couple team events where we got photos of the whole group, but it’s just tough when everything comes to a screeching halt like it did, like you can’t even go back in the building, there are just so many unknowns.”
Fiat feels emotionally for the the 17 senior players and one senior manager on the roster.
“We have such a large group of seniors this year. This was their opportunity to come out and create and develop their own legacy,” he said. “It’s sad to see it come up short and not have the opportunity, but obviously everybody is in the same situation and for us specifically [at] Dulaney, it was just a really special group because of the size of the kids and really how long they have been playing together and just how close they are on and off the field.”
The senior manager is Bobby O’Grady, who can’t play because of concussions.
Several of the seniors are planning to play in college. They include All-American midfielder Justin White (Wagner), defenseman Owen Campbell (Randolph Macon), attackman Brett Weiner (New Jersey Institute of Technology) and Johnny McGrain (St. Mary’s).
Trailing 7-2 with 9:35 left in the fourth quarter in the Class 4A regional semifinals against Catonsville, McGrain scored the first goal that started the comeback. His assist to John Schmidt made it 7-4.
Other seniors who are set to play in college are Ashton Brown and Dylan DeCesare (Harford Community), Brandon Dabkowski (St. Mary’s), Connor Fitzgerald (Piedmont), Ky Lane (Florida Southern) and Henry O’Connor (Saint Vincent).
RJ Freerick is undecided and David Choi, Matthew Dudas, Gullen Grogan, Ryan Haley, Colin Livingston and Schmidt are not planning to play in college.
Schmidt scored two goals in the loss to Catonsville.
“Next year they are all going to be going their separate ways,” said Fiat, who only lost five seniors from last year’s squad. “We are really excited about this group and the way they were coming together and I feel for them.”
Livingston and junior Scott Grim were rotating at goalie before the season was suspended.
Sophomore Will Bush, a JV faceoff specialist, was adapting to the same role on varsity.
Freshmen Braeden Colegrove and Chris Essinger made enough of an early impression to make the varsity squad.
“They just fit so well within the group because the seniors accepted them so much,” Fiat said. “It was something special to watch and have the opportunity to see them in the first couple of weeks of the season.”