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Howard County Sports

After reaching Class 3A state final, Mt. Hebron boys lacrosse looks to build on success of 2022 season

Coming off last season’s abbreviated 4-4 campaign, Mt. Hebron boys lacrosse entered the 2022 season with experience throughout the roster.

This season was vastly different as the Vikings (17-2, 10-0 Howard County) earned the program’s first Howard County championship in 16 years, a Class 3A Region I title and their first Class 3A state title game appearance since 2016.

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Mt. Hebron had 13 seniors on this year’s team, which fell short against six-time defending champion Severna Park, 9-6, in Wednesday night’s state final. However, among all that experience, coach Mike McCarthy didn’t feel the need to name a team captain.

“Any sort of adversity, they don’t flinch,” McCarthy said. “They’re ready to punch back. It’s a tremendous group of seniors, 13 kids that gave it their all. This has been their mission for four years. I didn’t have to name captains because they all lead and our underclassmen just follow. That’s very rare in a group of 16-, 17-, 18-year old boys. They’re all on the same page, they lead by example with a voice. It’s going to be hard to replicate with any of our teams in the future.”

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Losing the 2021 Howard County Times co-player of the year Cameron Stockenberg, the Vikings were without a pivotal offensive weapon. Instead of relying on one player to fill that void, Mt. Hebron utilized a balanced offensive approach between the attack and midfield.

Mt. Hebron had five players finish with more than 40 points, headlined by crease attackman Rich Tangires, who recorded a team-high 56. He scored 38 goals, often the beneficiary on the Vikings’ man-up opportunities, and showcased his ability as a facilitator with 18 assists. Fellow attackman Gianni Karam, a senior, also created offense on the wings with a team-high 40 goals, making opposing defenses pay with time and room.

Outside of the attackmen, the Vikings’ midfield group rounded out their diversified offensive approach. Sophomore Keegan Ryan had 32 goals and 17 assists, fluctuating between multiple roles. Maverick Smith (28 goals, 14 assists) and Nick Machiran (21 goals, 21 assists) also excelled in the midfield, finishing with 42 points each. Smith often functioned as an outside shooter and downhill dodger, while Machiran thrived moving off the ball and setting up his teammates.

Gavin Fleck and Cooper Stockenberg also contributed on offense. Fleck served as Mt. Hebron’s primary faceoff man, helping ignite transition opportunities, while Stockenberg gave Mt. Hebron an added boost on attack after returning from a torn ACL midway through the season.

While the Vikings’ offense was effective, the defense was the backbone of the team, allowing an average of 4.4 goals per game. A veteran laden unit with five seniors, goalie Everett Armstead was the heartbeat of that group. He finished the season with 215 saves, constantly communicating with his close defenders and midfielders. The veteran had double-digit saves in 13 of 19 games, including nine straight to conclude the season.

“My favorite memories would be that I got to play lacrosse,” Armstead said. “I got to be with my best friends. Every day after school it was like we’re all just hanging out and working hard together. This journey, it felt very short — too short with everything getting cut short or canceled. I’m upset that we didn’t get enough time, but I’m happy that everything happened.”

Outside of Armstead, the Vikings’ trio of close defenders in Peyton Oh, Jack Kettering and Aaron Krafft helped anchor the back end. All close friends off the field, that kinship translated to stifling defense on it. With each player offering his own unique skill set, they did well guarding their individual matchups and sliding to help when necessary. Fellow senior long-stick midfielder Andrew Magdar also played an integral part in that success, rotating in a multitude of roles for the Vikings.

That combination of a balanced offense and suffocating defense brought the Vikings to the biggest stage with an opportunity to win the program’s fifth state championship. In Wednesday night’s defeat to Severna Park, the Vikings trailed 7-1, but continued to claw back in the fourth quarter. While the deficit proved too large to overcome, Mt. Hebron will look to use this season as a springboard for success moving forward.

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“I think the underclassmen will take this to next year and really want to get it back for us,” Karam said. “We’ll be there to support them.”

“I think that they’re going to remember this feeling that everyone felt today,” Armstead added. “They’re going to bring it back again next season and hopefully we can repeat as county and regional champions and be here again. We’ve really taken everyone under our wings and made them truly our brothers, trying to mold them into the best lacrosse players that they can be.”


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