Howard County, MD — Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker felt like his team was right there with two-time defending 4A-3A state champions Severna Park for the final three quarters at home on Tuesday. Both teams scored four goals over the last 36 minutes of game action, and the Gladiators actually outshot the Falcons 17-10 over that span and won seven of 10 faceoffs.
But Hatmaker knows all too well that that high school lacrosse is a 48-minute game, and it was the first 12 that proved to be the difference in a game between two of the state's best public-school teams.
"If we could get rid of the first quarter, that would be awesome," Hatmaker said, "but unfortunately we can't."
Visiting Severna Park got off to a torrid start, scoring on its first three shots and winning six of seven faceoffs in opening quarter, and raced out to a 5-1 lead after 10 minutes and never looked back in a 9-5 victory.
University of Maryland commit Josh Coffman scored 11 seconds into the game and had a hat trick and four points in the first half, and Chase Cope and Dean Draughn added two goals apiece to hand the Gladiators their first loss of the season. Junior goalie Shane Carr, who missed four games — two of which Severna Park (3-0 Anne Arundel, 6-2 overall) lost — with an illness, played his best in the fourth quarter and finished with nine saves.
"We came out fired up, we got a few breaks and our faceoff guy [Colin Shadowens], I can't say enough about him," said Falcons coach Dave Earl. "He really set the tone for us there."
The Gladiators (3-0 Howard, 6-1 overall) started the game playing Coffman and company man-to-man but switched to a zone defensively after the first quarter, and it did create some problems for Severna Park. But with a four-goal lead, the Falcons didn't need to press and they took a 7-4 lead into the intermission.
"We just had some bonehead things that we practiced and worked on and we just didn't execute early on," Hatmaker said. "We slowed them down and I thought they had some unforced turnovers that really helped us out in the second half. I thought we had our opportunities; we were right there. I actually felt like it was more of a one- or two-goal ball game."
Earl said this was "a huge win for us" and the fast start was the result of controlling the 'X' and winning the groundball battle. Dominating possession doesn't always result in goals, but Earl said his team shot the ball particularly well early and stayed patient against the man-to-man defense.
Their fifth goal with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter came after possessing the ball for more than three and a half minutes, and they allowed Glenelg just two offensive possessions in the first 12 minutes.
"Our midfielders are tough to matchup with man-to-man," Earl said. "I think when you give them a running start, I think that's in our favor."
"[Glenelg is] an extremely good team, very well-coached with very strong athletes," Earl added. "I think their midfield and their attack are excellent and I think they did a really good job with the zone."
The Gladiators, who averaged nearly 16 goals per game in their first six games, did well to battle back after the Falcons' hot start. Tyler Nalls, who finished with a hat trick, scored on Glenelg's first offensive possession 3:05 into the game to cut the deficit to 2-1, and Michael Doughty (one goal, three assists), scored 58 seconds into the second quarter to cut Severna Park's lead to 5-2.
But the Gladiators were never able to capture enough momentum to threaten the Falcons' lead, as they answered every Glenelg goal with one of their own. Glenelg fired off seven shots in the final quarter, and three hit the pipes and Carr stopped three more.
"When you're playing a team like that, everything's really kind of got go your way," said Hatmaker, who also added that he didn't think his team shot the ball well throughout the game. "You just can't make mistakes when they have that many weapons."
"That's a big game for the state, but our goals are to win the county first and we've got a big game on Thursday [against undefeated Howard]," added Hatmaker. "We've already put this one behind us."
Severna Park (6-2) — 9, Glenelg (3-0 county, 6-1 overall) — 5
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Goals: SP — Josh Coffman 3, Chase Cope 2, Dean Draughn 2, Michael Harmeyer, Hans Hansen; G — Tyler Nalls 3, Michael Doughty, Tyler Reiff
Assists: SP — Cope, Coffman; G — Doughty 3, Kyle Dry
Saves: SP — Shane Carr 9; G — Robbie Noyes 7
Halftime: 7-4, Severna Park