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Howard boys lacrosse opens season with 5-3 win over defending county champions Marriotts Ridge

Highlights from Howard boys lacrosse beating Marriotts Ridge, 5-3, on Friday, March 23, 2018.

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — It wasn’t pretty by any means, but a win is a win.

That was how Howard coach Jimmy Creighton summed up his team’s 5-3 victory over Marriotts Ridge during Friday’s season opener for both teams.

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“We’ve got a lot of work to do. It wasn’t pretty tonight,” he said. “But I thought our defense did a tremendous job.”

The Lions scored twice in the final four minutes to break a 3-3 tie, and midfielder Connor Denicola had a pair of goals, including the game-winner, to lead the offense in what was otherwise a methodical defensive slugfest.

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Jeff Bruner, Jordan Larsen and Patrick Sutch also found the net for Howard, while the Mustangs’ goals came from freshman Charlie Reynolds and seniors Peter Geier and Troy Hettinger.

While the offensive precision lacked on both sides after a weather-disrupted week, both coaches raved about their team’s respective defensive performances. Creighton noted how dangerous Marriotts Ridge’s midfielders are — he said they “crushed us from up top” in the team’s meeting a season ago — and he was impressed at how well his short-stick defensive midfielders executed the game plan.

“They create so much offense and whatever they want to do, so that was a big point of emphasis going into tonight,” Creighton said.

On the other side, Marriotts Ridge coach Tony Incontrera thought his team managed enough offense to win but simply struggled putting shots on the cage. The Mustangs mustered 11 shots in the fourth quarter but only scored once.

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“We had a lot of shots, a lot of opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of them,” he said. “Anytime you go against a team as good and well-coached as they are and plan and prepare as well as they do you’ve got to execute the opportunities and finish. ... To hold them to five goals, I feel good about our defensive effort, but I’m really disappointed with our offensive effort.”

Entering the game, it was expected that All-County faceoff specialist Felix Knorr would dominate and allow Howard to maintain the majority of possession and that Marriotts Ridge’s experienced offense would produce. Neither played out that way, as Mustangs sophomore Andrew Luciano won six of the 12 draws, including three of four in the fourth quarter, against Knorr while the seniors from the defending county champions combined for just four points.

Howard didn’t get much from its top scoring threat, either. All-County senior attackman Mark Bruner was held without a point.

Howard County boys lacrosse coaches believe six or seven teams could be the mix for this year's league title.

The game didn’t play out as expected, so while both teams know there is a lot of room for improvement, there were also several takeaways that have both coaches excited about their team’s potential if they can get all three units clicking.

“Andrew Page played his tail off guarding Bruner and Luciano is another sophomore who played really well and we had a freshman score,” Incontrera said. “We just need those seniors to step up and hit the cage.”

Said Creighton: “I’m impressed with the way we handled the game because we didn’t have the faceoffs going on, some of our bigger scorers weren’t necessarily the guys scoring goals. So when you can get some production from some other guys who aren’t necessarily the known guys, that’s huge. We know Felix is going to be the guy to win a bunch of faceoffs for us and he’ll be fine.”

Jeff Bruner scored the game’s first goal less than two minutes on an unassisted tally, but Marriotts Ridge answered four minutes later when Reynolds score unassisted.

The Mustangs took their only lead of the night early in the second quarter on Geier’s goal. Howard answered five minutes later on Denicola’s first score and then took a 3-2 advantage midway through the third quarter after Larsen capped off a five-minute possession with a goal.

Hettinger tied the game 1 minute, 19 seconds into the fourth before Denicola’s second tally with 3:55 remaining. Sutch made it a two-goal advantage with a point-blank goal with the Lions up two men with 2:52 to go.

Howard (1-0 county, 1-0 overall) — 5, Marriotts Ridge (0-1, 0-1) — 3

Goals: Ho — Connor Denicola 2, Jeff Bruner, Jordan Larsen, Patrick Sutch; MR — Charlie Reynolds, Peter Geier, Troy Hettinger

Assists: Ho — Ben O’Connor, Henry Frazier, J. Bruner; MR — Brett Gladstone, Ellis Gloyd

Saves: Ho — Matt Hubbard 2, David Mauser 5; MR — Colin Kelley 8

Halftime: 2-2, tie

OTHER SCORES:

Atholton (1-0, 1-0) — 20, Hammond (0-1, 0-1) — 3

Goals: A — Keenan Long 5, Paul Ciccone 4, Nolan Krasnick 3, Tristan Rhodovi 3, Max Xuan 2, Andrew Cade 2, Justin Ahmuty, Jake Peretti; Ha — Nick Pekins 2, Tre Smith

Assists: A — Ciccone 3, Jay Desmarais; Ha — None

Saves: A — Unknown 1; Ha — Ethan Jones 16

Halftime: 15-1, Atholton

Oakland Mills (1-0, 1-0) — 9, Reservoir (0-1, 0-1) — 8

Goals: OM — Nick Miller 3, Toby Baldwin 2, Joe Thompson 2, Brian Ware, Kayshaun Franklin; Re — Talon Campbell 4, Alex Ahn 3, Alex Barila

Assists: OM — Chase Williams, Zyon Turner; Re — Ahn, Barila, Tommy Tucker, Max Reed, Garrett Lyons

Saves: OM — Billy Quesenberry 7; Re — Phil Sommerkamp 6

Halftime: 6-5, Reservoir

Indian Creek — 12, Chapelgate (0-2 MIAA C, 1-2) — 2

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