Carroll County boys lacrosse saw its share of postseason success in 2018.
Westminster, the Carroll County Athletic League champion, reeled off 18 consecutive victories and won the Class 3A state championship. Liberty reached a regional final. Winters Mill won a pair of playoff games in overtime.
Gerstell claimed its first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference crown last spring, after winning C Conference titles in 2012 and 2013.
A new season for the CCAL teams begin Thursday, March 21, and nine players from last year’s Times all-county first team are back this spring. Here are three things to watch for the 2019 season:
Westminster seems poised to defend its 3A state championship
The Owls are coming off an 18-1 season, one in which they dominated the competition after dropping the opener against private-school foe Mount St. Joseph 10-7. Westminster outscored its CCAL competition 99-30, and ran through the 3A playoffs with 69 goals against five opponents.
Senior Christian Etchison, the reigning Times Player of the Year, returns to anchor the Owls’ midfield. Etchison collected 36 goals and 34 assists, and coach Steve DeFeo rarely took him off the field. Etchison’s versatility will likely be on display again this spring, and he should have plenty of help.
Westminster also returns midfielders Chase Buckwalter and Jayden Hull, both seniors, as well as senior attackman Bubba Love, as key offensive contributors. Love led all CCAL players with 83 points (58 goals, 25 assists); Buckwalter was fourth with 62 points (30, 32).
Hull, a two-time first-team all-county selection, thrived as a long-stick midfielder and gave the Owls’ defense a boost — the unit allowed 7.2 goals per game in 2018. The defense features seniors Noah Baugher, Andrew Burns, Gavin Bloom, and Warren Evans, as well as junior Cory Hamilton.
The Owls’ team captains are Buckwalter, Burns, Etchison, senior Mitch Clark, Hull, and Love.
DeFeo said Logan Covey, a junior, is set to share some time as Westminster’s goalie with senior Tre Price. Covey compiled 201 saves and a 63.0 save percentage in 2018.
DeFeo’s record at Westminster is 122-17 in eight seasons as coach, and said the ninth began with a quality effort in a scrimmage March 16 that featured Northern (Calvert County), Towson, and Severna Park. The Owls defeated Towson 11-8 in the 3A semifinals last year before getting past Northern 12-8 for the title.
And Severna Park has won the last three 4A state crowns.
Expect Westminster to a contender once again in 2019.
“We’re still jelling as a team,” DeFeo said during a break in his team’s practice Tuesday. “We’re still trying to come together.”
Three coaches are making debuts at their respective schools
Josh Burchett takes over at Liberty as the Lions’ third coach in three years, while Mike Flemming — Liberty’s coach for 10 years — assumes the position at Gerstell. And Darian Meador, a former all-county standout who played at Westminster High, is Winters Mill’s new coach.
Burchett played at Glenelg High School and Catonsville Community College, and has spent seven years within the Freedom lacrosse program. Burchett worked as a scout for Liberty from 2013-17.
Flemming replaces Sean Todd as Falcons coach, and inherits a team who came into this year as the reigning MIAA B champs. He led Liberty to three consecutive 2A-1A state tournaments from 2015-17, led by the state final in 2016. Flemming earned Times Coach of the Year honors that spring.
Gerstell powered its way to the MIAA B title in 2018 behind a talented offensive duo — midfielder Seth Higgins and attackman Michael Ippolito combined for 95 goals and 84 assists last season. Ippolito graduated and went to High Point; Higgins transferred to St. Paul’s in Baltimore, which plays in the MIAA A Conference.
Meador graduated from Westminster and 2011 and starred at Albright College as a face-off specialist after that, and spent the last four springs as an assistant for Jeff Beeker at Winters Mill.
There should be plenty of all-county talent in Carroll this spring
Westminster has five returners from the 2018 all-county first team in Buckwalter, Logan Covey, Etchison, Hull, and Love.
Century has Alex Kristian, a junior defenseman and two-time first-team pick. Manchester Valley brings back attackman Owen McCallum, a senior. South Carroll has Adam McCarty, a senior attackman. And senior defenseman Jansen Pusateri returns for Winters Mill.