BURTONSVILLE — “It’s a great day to be an Owl.”
Westminster senior defender Gavin Bloom said this as the Owls boys lacrosse team made its way back to the locker room — with another piece of hardware for the trophy case.
The Owls were tested by a fourth-quarter push from Northern of Calvert County, but they held on to edge the Patriots 9-8 on Wednesday at Paint Branch High School and claim their second consecutive Class 3A state championship.
The victory also marked the team’s third title in program history and capped an undefeated season — Westminster finishes the spring 19-0 and has won 37 games in a row.
“We knew they had a lot of fight in them, a lot of talent in them and they weren’t going to quit on us,” Owls coach Steve DeFeo said about Northern. “I feel confident that they had the motivation to get back here again this year after last year’s tough defeat. They played really hard and played like they wanted to be champions today as well.”
DeFeo said Owls’ senior-laden team played a factor in the team’s championship run this spring.
Conner Covey paced the Owls with five goals and an assist. Chase Buckwalter scored twice and added an assist and Christian Etchison notched a goal and a helper for the Owls.
Junior goalie Logan Covey totaled 15 saves and came up clutch at the end of the final quarter when the Patriots drew closer and closer. Northern’s last shot on goal hit the pipe as Covey went to make another save.
“The pipe is a goalie’s best friend,” Covey said. “I love that pipe. It saved the day.”
Westminster had a 8-4 lead midway through the third quarter before the Patriots scored three straight to pull within one early in the final quarter. Conner Covey fired a shot past Patriots goalie Alex Sheehan to put the Owls up by two, but Northern’s Coy Mills responded once again to make it 9-8 with 3:15 remaining.
Logan Covey stopped a point-blank shot about a minute later, but the Owls turned the ball over with 2:21 left. Still, Westminster’s defense played close to keep the Patriots from tying it up.
Conner Covey scored the first three goals of the game in the opening 3 minutes, 45 seconds. Northern halted the Owls’ run when junior attackman Matt Holland connected with junior midfielder Scott Purcell.
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Buckwalter went coast-to-coast to give the Owls a 4-1 lead with 6:03 left in the first quarter, but the Patriots responded with the next two goals. The teams went goal-for-goal late in the second quarter and the Owls carried a 6-4 lead into the break.
This was Northern’s third straight appearance in the state title game, and the Pats last won it in 2017 — Westminster denied them in last year’s 3A final as well.
“It’s a Day One motto, everyone knows what the goal is,” Etchison said. “We’re not like other programs, we don’t shoot for winning a regional championship or going above .500. We shoot for being perfect all the time and Coach demands that out of us and we demand that out of each other. Our captains, me personally, probably got on the guys as much as Coach did this year just to demand that perfection we know we can achieve.”
Goals: W-Conner Covey 5, Chase Buckwalter, Bubba Love, Evan Park, Christian Etchison; NC-Coy Mills 2, Zach DeToto 3, John Sulier 2, Markie Nicholson.
Assists: W-Covey, Buckwalter 2, Etchison; NC-Mills, Matt Holland, Michael Downey.
Saves: W-15 (Logan Covey); NC-7 (Alex Sheehan).
Halftime: Westminster, 6-4.