Marriotts Ridge boys lacrosse defeated Mt. Hebron by a goal on March 30.
The next day, Mt. Hebron coach Mike McCarthy told his assistants not to come to practice. Instead, the Vikings sat in McCarthy’s classroom for 90 minutes and discussed the program’s values. His goal in that meeting was to help eliminate some of the selfishness he saw earlier in the season with some players focusing on individual statistics and not taking coaching the way he hoped.
That day proved to be a turning point in Mt. Hebron’s season and six weeks later, the Vikings exacted their revenge over the Mustangs with a 10-6 win in a Class 3A East Region I semifinal. The No. 2 seed Vikings will host No. 4 seed Howard in the regional final Monday. The Lions defeated No. 1 seed Westminster, 6-5, in the other semifinal.
“It’s about trust, it’s about being a family, supporting each other and believing in each other,” McCarthy said. “We just aired some things out and talked about what this program means to me, these coaches, the alumni. There were a lot of tears and people owned up to being selfish. We’ve had some bumps since then, but we really have become a family the last couple of weeks.”
Boston Brown scored for Marriotts Ridge shortly before the first half ended, giving the Mustangs momentum heading into the break. However, that was their last goal for over 21 minutes. With three first-year varsity starting close defenders and a young goalie, the Vikings leaned on the trust they’ve built to communicate effectively.
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Mt. Hebron (10-5) also welcomed back a key addition defensively with junior Aiden Hauf, while sophomore Luca LeClaire anchored the defense in net. LeClaire, one of three Vikings goalies to see action this season, made 10 saves on the evening.
“I’ve gotten so much more comfortable,” LeClaire said. “At the beginning, I didn’t feel like I fit in, but then I started becoming more of a leader on defense.”
Mt. Hebron outscored Marriotts Ridge 3-0 in the third, pushing its lead to four. Cooper Stockenberg scored two of his team-high three goals in the period, showcasing both his patience and athleticism. Stockenberg finished with a team-high five points (three goals, two assists), a byproduct of the Vikings’ unselfish offensive approach.
“It really meant a lot to us,” Stockenberg said of the meeting in McCarthy’s classroom. “Especially all of our captains, everyone took it to heart. We knew we needed to flip a switch and make a change and work as a team. No one’s focused on taking care of it themselves.”
Keegan Ryan added a pair of goals in the second half as the Vikings continued to control possession. They received key contributions on clears from multiple midfielders including Ryan, Kyle Ratta, Maverick Smith and Gene Hughes. Trailing by five late in the fourth, the Mustangs put an end to the extended drought.
Brown scored his third goal of the game on a feed from Mason Machiran, while Aidan Ro quickly followed with a goal off the ensuing faceoff. However, the deficit proved too large. The Mustangs were unable to regain possession and the Vikings salted away the clock, moving one step closer to a second consecutive state championship appearance.
“I think the biggest difference in the second half was we went down by a few goals,” Marriotts Ridge coach Matthew Richter said as his team ended the season 8-5. “We haven’t really rattled off a ton of goals this season, we grinded it out and got goals when we needed to. It’s hard to come back from a four-goal deficit, especially at the end. Guys were tired and ran their hearts out. It’s tough to answer that and climb back against them. We knew that if they went up they’d try to kill the ball a little bit and they did a great job answering.”