ELLICOTT CITY — Westminster will have representation from both of its lacrosse teams in the 3A state championship games at Stevenson University next week.
The Owls’ boys waited patiently to take the field as the girls battled Bel Air in overtime at Mount Hebron on Saturday and cheered for the team when Erin Anderson’s goal won it for the Owls to send the girls to the state final.
It was up to the boys to do the same.
The Owls faced Towson, the 3A North victors, and used an early 5-1 lead to capitalize early. The Generals never tied the game or gained a lead, and the Owls pulled away with an 11-8 victory to earn a spot in their first state title game since they won it in 2013.
Saturday’s victory was a sweet one for the Owls, whose championship run came up short in the state semifinals last season in a loss to Churchill.
“It’s an awesome feeling honestly,” Owls junior midfielder Christian Etchison said. “Anytime you get to just continue playing the sport you love with the guys you love, guys that are your family, it’s a great opportunity.”
Etchison’s unassisted tally sparked a 5-0 run for the Owls, good for a 5-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. Chase Buckwalter made it 6-2 Westminster with 9:01 left to play in the second quarter, but Towson responded with a three-goal run to come within one of the Owls at the half.
Generals senior midfielder Dyson Adams paced the team with five goals, three of which came in the first half. Buckwalter scored twice in the half.
Buckwalter pressured his way through the Generals’ defense early in the third quarter, spun around and tossed a pass to Conner Covey who made a cut in from the right side of the goal to finish the shot. Adams answered back five minutes later to bring the Generals within one of the Owls on a man-up advantage.
Covey scored three of his four goals in the third quarter alone. His unassisted goal with 19 seconds left in the frame brought the Owls up, 10-6.
The Generals (14-5) hadn’t found the back of the net since 5:27 was left in the third, but Adams ended that drought with a fifth goal about halfway through the final quarter. Leighton Bechdel scored with 6:30 to go, but Owls senior Patrick Stewart made it 11-8 with under two minutes left to secure the game.
“Confidence and trust in one another goes a long way,” Owls senior defender Matt Banks said.
The Owls (17-1) will face 3A South champion Northern of Calvert County in the championship at Stevenson University. The Patriots (18-1) held on to beat Centennial 12-11 in the state semifinals to advance to the state championship game one year after winning the 3A-2A title.
“We were able to get some turnovers on the defensive end and were able to get up to our offensive end and work the ball around, take some of the time off the clock,” Owls coach Steve DeFeo said. “In addition to that, when we did score, we were able to get the face-offs and with the face-offs and the ground balls - kudos to both Max Nave and Brandon Kim and our wing play of Jaden Hall, Christian Etchison and Chase Buckwalter to get those ground balls.
“It was vital because it got us the possession and we were able to widdle the clock between Bubba [Love], Alec [Kozlowski], Patrick [Stewart] and Chase [Buckwalter], they were able to move the ball around and control the time and tempo of the game.”
Goals: W-Conner Covey 4, Chase Buckwalter 2, Bubba Love 2, Patrick Stewart, Alec Kozlowski, Christian Etchison; T-Dyson Adams 5, Grant Kuehn, Mason Hickman, Leighton Bechdel.
Assists: W-Stewart, Buckwalter, Etchison; T-Kuehn.
Saves: W-6 (Logan Covey); T-8 (Matt Simmons).
Halftime: Westminster, 6-5.