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Howard County Sports

Howard boys lacrosse shines in season opener, defeats River Hill, 12-2

Howard lacrosse sophomore midfielder Jayden Denicola patiently operated before switching to his left hand.

In his first extensive varsity action, Denicola fired a shot past River Hill goalie senior Charlie Kluckhuhn. That lefty finish was his second of three goals in the opening quarter, staking the Lions to a strong lead after one quarter.

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From there, Howard’s momentum only grew as the Lions opened the season with a 12-2 victory over River Hill.

“It felt amazing,” Denicola said of his performance. “We were all running the offense together, so it works. When we run what we run it works. It felt great to score a hat trick in my first varsity game.”

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The Lions’ defense was stifling, extending out onto the Hawks midfielders and attackers, not allowing them to get space with time and room.

Howard also showcased its unselfishness offensively as 10 of 12 goals were assisted. Attackman Nathan Boone netted a hat trick, while Dom Giangrasso tallied a pair of goals. Both also added assists. Lucas Mena was the Lions’ main facilitator with five points (two goals, three assists), as both Matt Baur and Owen Taylor added a goal. Baur handed out three assists.

The win was Shea Conway’s first as head coach after spending 11 seasons with the team as an assistant. Howard’s former longtime coach Jimmy Creighton watched from the sidelines in his new position as he was named the Athletics and Activities Manager at River Hill in August.

“It was so important especially the fact it was 12-2 at the end of this game,” senior defender Will Stephanos said. “We felt really good coming into this and we executed the game plan. Coach said all week, ‘Execute the game plan.’ That’s all we did and to do it against our old coach and our old coach’s school, it was awesome.”

Stephanos made his impact felt all over the field, taking several faceoffs early in the game. From there, he fluctuated between long stick midfielder and close defense, accruing a team-high 11 ground balls and an assist. Overall, the Lions’ close defense disrupted the rhythm of River Hill’s passes as the Hawks committed several turnovers throughout. Howard goalie Logan Boone finished with 10 saves.

“I thought that they played really well as a unit,” Conway said of the defense. “They were communicating. When the ball was on the ground, we came up with a lot of ground balls and just really a lot of great communication and that’s what we value is communication. I thought they played with good energy, good intensity. It was a heck of a performance from them and I’m pleased with how they played.”

Trailing 5-0 at the half, River Hill’s offense found more clean looks at the outset of the second half. However, it didn’t translate to goals as the Hawks were shut out in the third and trailed 7-0 after three quarters.

In the early stages of the fourth, the Hawks got on the board with goals from senior midfielder Will Gochar and sophomore midfielder Josh Davis. At that point, the deficit was too large as the Lions scored the final three goals, securing a commanding season-opening victory.

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“We got rattled and we started playing more as individuals,” River Hill coach Keith Gonsouland said. “As a result, a four-goal game turns into a 12-2 game. We were plagued with a lack of poise and we’ll get better. They were much more disciplined than us today and that’s on me. We’re going to get better.”


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