Mt. Hebron junior Keegan Ryan scored a career-high six goals and added two assists to lead the fifth-seeded Vikings to a 10-5 victory over fourth-seeded host Catonsville in the Class 3A lacrosse state quarterfinals.
Mt. Hebron coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t surprised that it was the first time Ryan scored that many goals in one game because of the high amount of quality scorers the Vikings possess. McCarthy credits a big reason the Vikings are where they are is because of the team’s balance including “three or four really good players” who can each take over the scoring on a given night, as well as the unselfishness of everyone to work collectively.
“[Ryan is] a real unselfish kid,” McCarthy said. “He just got more opportunities tonight to finish the ball than the other guys did.”
Ryan did most of his damage in the first half when he scored four goals and had both of his assists when the Vikings (12-5) built a 7-2 lead.
“Our offense was playing together, playing team offense,” Ryan said. “It’s been huge for us the second half of the season. In the beginning half of the season, we were more individual and it cost us, but the second half, we’ve been playing a lot better as a team, defensively, offensively on the wings and the goalie.”
Ryan helped the visitors open a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes on unassisted tallies. Catonsville cut the lead in half with under four minutes left in the first quarter when Noah Kennedy assisted Nate Wess. Mt. Hebron’s Kyle Ratta assisted Cooper Stockenberg and Ryan assisted Ratta and the lead swelled to 4-1 after the first quarter.
Wess scored an unassisted goal early in the second quarter to cut into the lead, but the Comets didn’t score again until early in the fourth quarter against a Viking defense led by longsticks Zach Goodwin, Daniel Harrington, Stephen Sine and Alden Hauf and sophomore goalie Luca LeClaire.
Ryan assisted Rich Tangires and scored the final two goals of the half, including a pivotal one with 29 seconds left.
Neither team scored in the third quarter and the Comets (10-5) only attempted three shots, including one off the post by Wess with under 30 seconds left.
Ryan bumped the lead to 8-2 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Comets refused to quit.
Toby Eveleth scored off a Wess assist with 9:23 left and Kennedy converted an Eric Kaplan feed, making it 8-4 with 4:31 left. Longstick defender John Gorski scored from deep 50 seconds later and the deficit was only three.
But Viking sophomore Doug Cohen won the next three faceoffs and Ryan scored off a Stockenberg assist and Maverick Smith scored on an empty net to seal the victory.
“With this crew, down five we have the belief we, can do it,” Catonsville coach KR Schultz said. “We just didn’t make the final push, we needed to start it out earlier.”
Ryan wasn’t surprised the Comets made a run, but stressed a patient attack helped maintain the lead.
“We’ve always got to be ready for them to come back and patience is big for us, that’s what our offensive coach stresses all the time,” Ryan said.
Winning the late faceoffs didn’t hurt.
“[Cohen] plays so hard,” Ryan said. “He’s a sophomore and he’s kind of new to lacrosse, but he’s been improving so much, probably the most improved player on this team. He’s been huge for us and late in the game getting faceoffs that we needed to win the game.”
“[Wess] I’d imagine is first team All-County and Doug played great,” McCarthy said. “They earned everything they got and Catonsville is a good team, they almost came back and beat Hereford about 10 days ago and we have the ultimate respect for KR and his boys so my kids locked in and they worked their butts off.”
“Wess is a Baltimore County first teamer and All-American, he’s a great player and he had a phenomenal career,” said Schultz, whose Comets lost one game each of the past two seasons to Severna Park in the state semis last year and state finals in 2021. “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey and it’s been a great journey, it’s been a lot of fun.”
McCarthy is aiming to get back to the state championship game after losing in the final last season to Severna Park, 9-6, and he doesn’t care where the scoring comes from.
“It doesn’t matter who gets the goals or assists as long as our number is greater than theirs it’s a win for us,” McCarthy said. “We know what’s ahead of us and we are ready, I don’t care who it is or where it is, we are coming.”