Talk about a strong start.
Alec Kozlowski and his Westminster boys lacrosse teammates wanted nothing more than to make a statement Friday in their regional playoff opener, and they faced an opponent in county rival Manchester Valley that entered the postseason on a roll and won its first game with ease.
Kozlowski and the Owls certainly made their mark — Westminster took control from the beginning and cruised to a 17-5 victory at Ruby Field.
"All season we've been putting things together and working together to be the best we can be," said Kozlowski, a senior attackman who scored six goals to pace the Owls (14-1). "I think we're really coming together with a nice product here."
Kozlowski got help from fellow senior attackman Patrick Stewart, who finshed with five goals. Junior midfielder Christian Etchison had two goals and four assists, while Chase Buckwalter, another junior middie, added two goals.
Bubba Love, a junior attackman, handed out three assists and was part of the Owls' balance that kept Man Valley (9-7) from notching its seventh win in eight games.
Westminster put away any doubts in the first quarter when it led 4-0, and pushed the lead to 13-1 at halftime. A running clock went into effect in the second half and remained that way for the rest of the contest.
Cody Upman, a junior midfielder, had two goals for the Mavericks, as did senior Alex Metcalf, while senior Brandon Smith added a goal and an assist.
There were hugs and tears from the visitors following the game — the Mavs' season was over, but they were also still dealing with the loss of a former player. Dan Mangold, who played goalie at Manchester Valley before graduating last year, died as a result of an accident involving a car and a motorcycle in Baltimore County earlier in the week.
Players and coaches from both teams huddled near midfield for a few moments following Friday's game.
Westminster beat Man Valley 17-8 during the regular season, but that one was more competitive than Friday's matchup. Instead, it was the Owls' 14th consecutive win and a victory that advances the Owls into the section final Monday.
The Owls will host Blake, and Kozlowski said his squad is gunning for another trip to the state tournament this spring.
"Every year we come out with fire, because it hasn't ended the way we wanted to all four years I've been here," he said. "Yeah, every year it fuels us."
Goals: MV-Cody Upman 2, Alex Metcalf 2, Brandon Smith; W-Alec Kozlowski 6, Patrick Stewart 5, Chase Buckwalter 2, Bubba Love, Christian Etchison, Connor Covey, Evan Park.
Assists: MV-Smith, Owen McCallum; W-Etchison 4, Love 3, Buckwalter 2, Noah Baugher, Kozlowski, Stewart, Covey.
Saves: MV-7 (Ben Barnes); W-8 (Logan Covey 7, Tre Price 1).
Halftime: Westminster, 13-1.
Latest Carroll County High School Sports