Injuries may have derailed Howard’s Henry Frazier during the boys lacrosse regular season, but the 5-foot-5 inch senior midfielder proved he was healthy in the Lions’ 4-3 victory over Catonsville (7-9) in the Class 4A North Section I finals played at Rockburn Park on Monday afternoon.
Frazier scored three times, including the game-winning goal with 4:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, to help the Lions (11-5) advance to the regional finals against the winner of Urbana and Sherwood.
“That last goal, it was just a lot of emotion going on, despite everything I’ve been going through during the season battling injuries,” said Frazier, who pulled a hamstring in his second scrimmage, broke his wrist in the fourth game and pulled his other hamstring two weeks ago. “To have it click after facing adversity in the first quarter and first half and just finally putting one in the back of the net against a really good goalie, it gets the guys going.”
Catonsville coach K.R. Schultz was aware that Frazier was an offensive threat.
“We knew that he was getting healthier and he’s a good player,” he said.
Howard coach Jim Creighton also knew Frazier was hungry to score.
“Henry has worked hard for four years and lacrosse is his one sport and he has worked extremely hard for it and he’s a team guy and I kind of feel bad for him going through some of the injuries he’s been going through and he just keeps a positive attitude and he comes out here and plays ball,” Creighton said.
Both team’s defenses were outstanding and the first quarter was scoreless.
Catonsville finally got on board when freshman Brian Ruppel ripped one from 20 yards out, off Chris Huppman’s assist, three minutes into the second quarter.
Huppman’s goal with 2:42 left in the first half bumped the lead to 2-0 before Frazier got the Lions on board off an assist by Nathan Boone with 1:23 left in the half.
Frazier tied the score at 2-all with 3:37 remaining in the third quarter, but the Comets answered on a goal by Grant Nyland with 9:53 left in the game for a 3-2 lead.
At that point, Catonsville’s defense of longsticks Wyatt Gentner, Gunner Chevront, Evan Rogers and Jack Lowe, in front of goalie Ian Callinan (seven saves) had bent, but wasn’t breaking against the Lions.
“Ian has been great,” Catonsville’s Schultz said. “He’s a great kid, selfless kid.”
Howard finally got one through Callinan after Jeff Bruner rebounded his own shot that caromed off a defenseman and deposited it into the net, making it 3-3 with 8:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Howard’s stout defense of Ben Stephanos, Scott Trout, Seth Trout and Tyler Guerke held the Comets scoreless for the final 9:53, along with goalie Matt Hubbard (six saves).
Meanwhile, Ethan Mitchell was holding his own at the faceoff X, winning the final two faceoffs after the Lions scored the tying and go-ahead goals.
Trailing by one, Howard had possession after a time out with 48 seconds left.
Catonsville inserted midfielder Ruppel in goal with the intent to have him chase the ball, but Ruppel ended up making a save on a shot by Bruner and the Comets called their final time out with 26.9 seconds remaining.
“The goal was to have Ruppel out chasing people, but he did a great job of getting in and making the save,” Schultz said. “Ruppel is a goalie by trade.”
After the restart, a shot by Huppman was high and the Comets didn’t get another scoring chance.
Even though he scored three goals, the effort of the defense wasn’t lost on Frazier.
“A big shout out to the defense, goalie Matt Hubbard and captain Ben Stephanos, he was holding it down the whole time and keeping the offense engaged,” Frazier said. “Defense was like ‘We’ve got your back’ and somebody had to step up on offense and it just happened to be me this game, stepped up and put a couple in the back of the net and got the defenses back, so I’m definitely looking forward to our next opponent.”
Creighton knew what to expect from the Comets deliberate attack and his defense responded.
“It’s definitely something we repeated to the team, that they are going to look to get long possessions and they are going to play tough ‘D’ and they have a good goalie and we felt that we have a good goalie and we’ve got a good defense, so we kind of thought it wouldn’t be a high-scoring affair.”
“We just didn’t get enough shots to fall,” Schultz said. “They sit and play in a zone and we knew it, we’ve seen it before and it just forces you to shoot some outside shots.”
Goals: Henry Frazier 3, Jeff Bruner 1.
Assists: Nathan Boone 1.
Saves: Matt Hubbard 6.
Goals: Brian Ruppel 1, Chris Huppman 1, Grant Nyland 1.
Assists: Huppman 1.
Saves: Ian Callinan 7.
Halftime: Cat. 2-1