Just three years before making Carroll County boys lacrosse history, the program at Winters Mill hadn’t even played a varsity game.
The Falcons officially became the county’s seventh varsity team in the spring of 2004. By 2007, they surpassed the rest, becoming the first boys lacrosse state champions in Carroll County history. The Falcons defeated Parkside, 7-6 in overtime, at UMBC on May 23, 2007, to win the Class 2A-1A state title, capping a 19-0 season in the process.
“I knew history was on the line,” former Falcons standout Jake Stocksdale said. “We just kept pushing through, gave it a go and tried to capitalize on the season.”
Stocksdale was one of the Falcons’ top offensive threats in the playoffs. He scored four goals and added three assists in the team’s 12-11 win over Century in the 2A-1A West regional title game. He scored twice in the state final and his second goal tied the game at 6 with 2 minutes, 1 second left in regulation.
The Falcons knew they were up against an experienced Parkside team — the Rams also entered the state final unbeaten that spring. The Rams erased a 3-0 deficit to take a 5-3 lead with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter before Sean Smithson tied the score 5-5 with his second goal of the night.
Parkside regained the lead with 3:33 to go before Stocksdale’s goal tied things up. Winters Mill had gone scoreless for about 25 minutes after their early burst, but regained possession with 50 seconds to go.
Love, then a sophomore, caught a pass in front of Parkside’s crease, but his shot was saved by Rams goalie Mike Chubb to force overtime.
“I wanted the kids to feel a sense of calm, to use their heads,” former Falcons coach Sal Picataggi said. “This is what we prepared for for years. We had been in tight situations like this before, but the guys trusted each other. I still remember talking to them in the huddle, ‘We’ve got to win the face-off and when we do, this is what we’re going to run.‘”
Picataggi said Parkside was hit with a face-off violation to start overtime, and the Falcons won the next face-off to gain possession. Picataggi’s players were putting pressure on the Rams for about three minutes until Smithson made his move to help set up the eventual game-winner from Love.
“He was our quarterback from behind,” Picataggi said of Smithson. “He picked up the ball looking at the goal from the right side and he was coming from behind on the left, dives right, and kind of fed it — just angled over the corner of the goal. He beat his man, Ben’s defenseman slid … it was a very easy feat, just had to catch and finish.”
Stocksdale said he remembers the entire team mobbing Love in front of the Rams’ crease as soon as they took a few seconds to process what had just happened.
“Parkside was the team to beat,” Stocksdale said. “We were in the same boat. To know that we were the best team in the state that was the only one to stay undefeated and stay on top was pretty remarkable.”
Picataggi came to Winters Mill in 2002 after coaching at the recreational league level and said club lacrosse in Carroll had not yet peaked in popularity. The Falcons were led by a core group of starters with plenty of varsity experience, having already played for Picataggi for three to four years before.
Picataggi retired from coaching at Winters Mill in 2012. He currently teaches at Century High School and is now an assistant lacrosse coach at McDonogh.
“I was very fortunate to have that group,” Picataggi said. “We built it the right way. They wanted to work and they wanted to get better. They had the talent and the work ethic. They did everything I asked them to do over four years. We looked at it like that, a four-year journey.”
The Falcons enjoyed 12 wins by five goals or more that spring and were considered one of the best. Stocksdale, 30, said being a part of the first boys lacrosse team to win a state title in Carroll County, and at Winters Mill, helped put the program on the map for future generations.
“Just to get into the mix and finally be the ones that got the first title for the school was cool,” Stocksdale said. “That just opened the doors to watch the success of all the other state championship teams that followed behind us.”