UNIONTOWN — For Francis Scott Key, it’s states or bust.
The Eagles played their first playoff game Tuesday evening after they received a forfeit last week against Randallstown. FSK routed Pikesville 23-3 in the Class 1A West Section 1 final to earn a spot in the 1A West final for the second year in a row.
Key is one win away from capturing its first regional title since 2001, but the Eagles will have to get past Smithsburg to do so.
The teams previously met in the regular season and FSK defeated the Leopards 18-4. The Leopards were also responsible for denying the Eagles of a regional crown last May.
“Reflecting back on last year against Smithsburg, it was a tough team for us,” Eagles coach Butch Fitzgerald said. “This year, for whatever reason, we had a really good game against them so the one thing we need to keep in mind is they want to play and win as much as we do. Now they have to come out and fight and we need to make sure we are mentally prepared for that because it’s not going to be the same game it was the first time around.”
Fitzgerald said the team’s focus Tuesday was on ball movement, something he felt had been stagnant over the past few weeks.
The Eagles (6-7) didn’t waste any time handling the Panthers from the start. They scored the first 20 goals of the game and Pikesville couldn’t garner enough offense to find the back of the net until 4 minutes, 45 seconds remained in the third quarter. Junior Myles Sefret was credited with the goal, and the Panthers notched another with 29 seconds left from senior Hasani James.
Pikesville sophomore goalie Noah Jacobstein anchored the visitors’ defense and made 16 saves before being ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the third quarter. Senior Ethan Busch replaced him and made one save for the Panthers (5-10).
Face-off advantage was high in Key’s favor against the Panthers — the Eagles won all but two.
“When we get to a point in the game where it’s like sudden death, the feeling of getting the ball and going down, working it, is just amazing,” FSK senior midfielder Bobby Sylves said. “Right off the face-off and getting a goal, it’s the best feeling, it’s an energy boost.”
The Eagles got goals from eight different players — junior attackman Cole LaPierre led the way with seven goals and five assists. Connor Fitzgerald had four goals and five assists, and Colton Price contributed five goals.
Sylves notched two goals and assists apiece.
“Our goal today was to come out and move the ball and obviously when you put up the goals we put up today, the movement and the cutting and the lacrosse we needed was there,” Fitzgerald said. “Going into tomorrow’s game back to back, there’s not a lot of time to recover and make adjustments so everything had to work tonight.
“The first half showed that what we had put in place was working.”
Goals: P-Myles Sefret, Hasani James, Spencer Mann; FSK-Cole LaPierre 7, Colton Price 5, Connor Fitzgerald 4, Bobby Sylves 2, Gunner Paolini, Logan Hudson, Bryce Zepp, Dalton Gladden.
Assists: P-none; FSK-LaPierre 5, Zepp 4, Fitzgerald 3, Sylves 2, Gladden 2, Price.
Saves: P-17 (Noah Jacobstein 16, Ethan Busch 1); FSK-1 (Keith LaPierre).
Halftime: FSK, 19-0.