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Mt. Hebron goalie Casey DuBois nets boys lacrosse Player of the Year honors

Mt. Hebron goalie Casey DuBois nets boys lacrosse Player of the Year honors
Mt. Hebron senior goalie Casey DuBois has been named the Howard County boys lacrosse Player of the Year after posting a save percentage of 74.5 this spring and leading the Vikings to the state championship game. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda)

When the Mt. Hebron senior class walked across the stage for its graduation ceremony at Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 2, there were several people focused on Casey DuBois.

They were county lacrosse coaches, and they just wanted to make sure they saw DuBois receive his diploma — that he was really wouldn't be back for another season. The thought of that just seemed too daunting.

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"There was a bunch of us coaches at Mt. Hebron's graduation just making sure he was getting that paper walking across that stage, I can guarantee you that," said Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker.

There are many reasons why opposing players and coaches are glad DuBois is gone. The winner of the 3A/2A Kelly Award, which is given to the best player in that respective classification, and the Wynne Award, given to the best goalie in Maryland, DuBois set himself apart over the last few seasons and planted himself into the conversation as arguably the best goalie to ever play in Howard County.

"He's one of a few goalies I've seen who can win a game for a team," said River Hill coach Keith Gonsouland. "I've seen a lot goalies keep teams in games, but he can single-handily win a game."

Hatmaker echoed a similar sentiment, saying DuBois is "a hell of a lacrosse player. He truly is one of the best goalies we've ever had in this county, if not the best. He's a special player."

It's because of that success that DuBois has been named the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier boys lacrosse Player of the Year.

"I was excited," DuBois said of being told he earned Player of the Year honors. "I put in a lot of work the past three years. I was just happy to realize all that time and hard work — it paid off."

Before DuBois became a star for the Vikings, he was recruited to play at St. Paul's School near Towson, where he split time at goalie on the JV team his freshman season.

He decided to leave St. Paul's for Mt. Hebron after that year to play with his older brother Connor for his senior season, and DuBois started in goal. He led the Vikings to an 8-7 record and earned second-team all-county honors.

"When we played him his sophomore year, he was like a little general barking our orders, and everybody was following him," Gonsouland said. "He's a natural leader back there."

Vikings coach Mike McCarthy said DuBois has been a dominant player since Day 1, but was truly special because he allowed the team to alter its game plan.

"He's enabled us to do things differently because we knew we would be competitive in every game no matter who we were playing," he said. "... We knew we didn't have to score 10 goals per game. We kept saying if we can get to eight we have a shot because of Casey and those guys in front of him."

Entering his junior season, DuBois knew that his team had a legitimate shot to win a state championship for the first time since 2006. The Vikings finished the year 15-2, with the only losses coming against state-champion Howard and state-finalist River Hill in the regional finals. DuBois was named first-team all-county and finished runner-up to Howard's Scott Bruner as Player of the Year after posting a county-best 71.8 percent save percentage.

But like all great players, DuBois posted several signature moments in the postseason.

In overtime against Marriotts Ridge in the opening round of the playoffs, he saved a shot on a breakaway late in the game and led the fast break the other way, which resulted in Scott Mackrell's game-winning goal.

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Three days later — in another overtime contest — Glenelg peppered DuBois with nine shots in the extra session. He stopped them all, and once again his last save started the transition goal for Mt. Hebron.

"To be honest, the biggest evolution of Casey is he's not only an unbelievable ball-stopper, but he commands the defense and has an understanding of what the offense is doing," Hatmaker said. "A lot of guys can stop the ball but couldn't tell you what the heck is going on with anything else."

The Vikings lost, 8-6, to River Hill in the regional championship game, though Gonsouland recalls that the Hawks "probably should have beat them like 12-6."

"He made a couple saves like, 'Wow. Let's just keep shooting because hopefully he can't save them all.' That's the thing that separates him. He makes a lot of the saves that he shouldn't make."

With 18 seniors and most of the starting lineup back for the 2016 season, Mt. Hebron started this spring 6-1 before squaring off against Glenelg, and overtime would decide the result for a third straight time. DuBois stopped 16 shots that night, including nine in the five overtime periods, before Dylan Scheeler's goal gave the Vikings a 6-5 victory.

It was those kinds of moments that DuBois not only relished, but also seemed to thrive in.

"I knew in big game situations that kids would come up to me and tell me, 'This has to be on you,'" DuBois said. "Like the Glenelg game in the five overtimes, kids were coming up to me and telling me to win this game for them. ... But I feel like I had just as big a role as anybody else on the team."

A promising season took a sudden downward turn, however. Mt. Hebron followed the Glenelg victory with three straight losses. They scored 12 goals and allowed 27 during that stretch, which included the Vikings' worst defeat of the year, 13-2, to Arundel. It was the only game all season DuBois allowed double-digit goals.

Looking back on it now, DuBois says it was the best thing that could've happened.

"I think it was good for us to drop a couple games because it was a wake-up call," he said. "We had a lot of hype around us going into the season and I think we realized we needed to work harder and take things more seriously."

The Vikings recovered to win two of their last three games heading into the postseason, and then rolled past Winters Mill in their first playoff game. They needed a late comeback to beat Marriotts Ridge to set up a rematch with River Hill in the regional championship game, and this time Mt. Hebron and DuBois exacted the perfect revenge in a 6-0 shutout win. McCarthy said after the game that it was arguably the best defensive performance in program history.

"The team defense — they don't really have to slide and they can stay tight," Gonsouland said. "They force you to take outside shots."

Two days later versus Hereford in the state semifinal game, DuBois had the best individual performance of his career in a 7-6 win, according to McCarthy. He routinely stopped point-blank shots with his team trailing in the second half, and then gave his team a 6-5 lead at the end of the third quarter after he launched a 90-yard shot on goal that was deflected in. He finished the game with 11 saves and an assist to go with several caused turnovers and ground balls.

"The Hereford game — that might have been his best game of his career all around. River Hill was dominant, but Hereford had five or six kids who could go to the goal," McCarthy said.

"The turnovers he created — making the interceptions, sticking his stick out and making kids think about every pass and throw the ball away. You don't notice those things, but it's huge, especially for us because we didn't have the ball very much that game because they won all but two face-offs. The presence in mind to make the 90-yard pass ... That's not easy to do."

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Unfortunately for the Vikings, they fell to Linganore, 9-7, in the state championship game, and DuBois struggled to accept that it was the last time he would wear the black and gold jersey.

"That one hurt. But for me, I was more upset about not being able to play with the guys around me again," he said. "I know a lot of guys on the team broke down after the game because they knew they would never be able to play lacrosse again. I get to play next year, so that's an upside, but I hate to lose. It was a downer not to hold that trophy after the game, but it's worse that it's all over.

"It was another wild ride. It was really special to get to the state championship game. Not a lot of teams make it that far, so I was really proud of our team for getting there."

DuBois stopped 260 shots, 75 more than anyone in the county, this season to go with a 74.5 save percentage. He holds Mt. Hebron records for save percentage (74.5 percent) and saves per game (12.3), and allowed just 4.8 goals per game in his career. He will continue his lacrosse career at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

"He's grown up a ton. He's going to do great things with his life," McCarthy said. "Drexel is a great school and a great program and they compete to get into the NCAA Tournament every year. I would think he has a shot to go in and compete to start right away."

Also named to the first team:

Attack

Mark Bruner, Howard.

The younger brother of last year's Howard County Times Player of the Year Scott Bruner, Mark Bruner had big shoes to fill. It took a little while for the sophomore to find his stride among an attack of juniors and seniors, but when he did toward the end of the year he proved to be one of the best in the county.

"He came into his own mid-season and became one of our go to guys offensively," said Lions coach Jimmy Creighton. "He has the uncanny ability to dodge to score and dodge to feed due to his excellent lacrosse IQ and vision."

Bruner, who finished the year with team-highs in assists (29) and points (56) and was eighth overall in the league in points, picked up his production in the playoffs. He scored four goals in the first half of a 14-4 win over Bel Air in the state semifinals, and scored two of his team's three goals in the state finals.

Jake Friedman, River Hill.

Friedman broke out with a dominating campaign this spring, as he finished the year tied for third in the county with 46 goals, tied for fourth in points with 67 and scooped up 73 ground balls.

"He has the ability to play at a high level when he's tired and has the energy to fight through," said Hawks coach Keith Gonsouland, who said Friedman is the best player he's coached since 2010 Player of the Year Jim Marlatt. "He took a lot of pressure off of other people because he drew so much attention, and even though he did get a lot of attention he still beat them and did it in a lot of different ways."

A 3A/2A Kelly Award finalist, Friedman ends his varsity career with 99 goals and 49 assists, sixth in program history in points, and the most goals for a JV player. He's also the fifth All-American to don a River Hill uniform, and he's considering walking on to play lacrosse at the University of Maryland.

Kyle Sutton, Mt. Hebron.

A first-team all-county selection at midfield in 2015, Sutton moved to attack midway through the season to spark Mt. Hebron's offense, and finished the season with 26 goals and 16 assists. But it was his timely goals — including a few in the playoffs — that defined his Mt. Hebron career.

He scored an overtime game-winner against Glenelg last spring, which was the Vikings' first win over the Gladiators since 2006, and then scored the game-tying goal against Glenelg later that year in the playoffs.

"He's meant a lot to our program. He scored some huge goals," said Mt. Hebron coach Mike McCarthy. "Last two years he's had overtime winners and game-tying goals. Both games against Marriotts Ridge this year he had huge goals to get our offense going, and against Hereford he tied the game at 5 late in the third (quarter)."

Sutton finishes his career with more than 100 goals scored.

Ryan Tiffey, Wilde Lake.

A year after he finished eighth in the county with 54 points, Tiffey followed up his 2015 campaign with some gaudy totals. He led the league in points and goals this season with 103 and 66, respectively, and became just the second player in the last three years in the county to tally more than 100 points in a season (Scott Bruner, 2015).

"Ryan Tiffey knows what it takes to be a successful lacrosse team. He took initiative on and off the field," said Wildecats coach Jon Robinson. "When we faced adversity, the kids looked to Ryan and he showed us the way. ... He was Wilde lake lacrosse for the past four years."

Tiffey scored at least two points in every game, and against Hammond in the opening round of the playoffs he scored 12 of his team's 13 goals in a 14-13 overtime win. He ends his four-year varsity career with 119 goals, 93 assists and 140 ground balls.

Midfield

Lewy Anania, Marriotts Ridge.

Anania stepped up in a big way this spring after 2015 first-team all-county attackman Pat Clipp graduated and Troy Hensh missed the early part of the season with an injury. He finished the year with a team-high 30 goals and 37 points, as well as 50 ground balls. More importantly, though, Anania played his best down the stretch during Marriotts Ridge's solid postseason run to the regional semifinals.

"His athletic ability makes him a very tough cover when he is on the run, and his outside shooting stretches the defense, which opens up chances for his teammates," said Mustangs coach Tony Incontrera. "Lewy followed up his solid regular season with outstanding performances in the playoffs, namely his three-goal first half in Marriotts Ridge's first round victory over Glenlelg. This was our first win over the Gladiators since 2009."

Malik Anderson, Howard.

Anderson was a dominant force at running back for Howard football in the fall and translated much of that success onto the lacrosse field. After missing much of last season with an injury, he made the best of his final season. He was the guy most team's game planned to stop all season.

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"He's a game changer, a guy who makes a team game plan around his abilities," said Lions coach Jimmy Creighton. "His athleticism allows him to break down any defender at any given time in any area of the field. His first step is unbelievably quick which gives him an edge versus almost any defender."

Anderson, who will play football at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the fall, ended the season with 29 goals and 19 assists.

Danny Isaac, River Hill.

One of the most consistent players for River Hill all season was Isaac. He did a little bit of everything in 2016, scoring 22 goals, picking up 13 assists and logging 51 ground balls. But ability in the clearing game to set up the offense was what stood out the most.

"He did a lot more than score goals for us. He was on the wing getting ground balls. A lot of Jake's goals were because of Danny," said Hawks coach Keith Gonsouland. "Danny is a throw-back midfielder; a 48-minute midfielder. He plays offense, defense and was single-handedly a one-man clear."

Isaac finishes his career with 71 goals and 45 assists, and his 116 points is good for 10th most in Hawks history. He will play lacrosse for University of Maryland – Baltimore County next spring.

Alex Stephanos, Howard.

One of the core players from last year's undefeated state championship team, Stephanos was one of the go-to offensive threats this season for Howard. But it wasn't just his offensive prowess that caused havoc in the midfield; his defensive abilities stood out time and time again.

Howard County sports reporters Monica D'Ippolito, Brent Kennedy and Tim Schwartz recap the week that was and the week ahead for Howard County high school athletics.

In the intro, Brent Kennedy briefly touches on which county sports teams are still remaining in the playoffs.

Howard boys lacrosse player Alex Stephanos joins us for a segment starting at the 1:43 mark. We ask him about his team’s playoff run; their big triple-overtime win over Westminster on Monday; expectations going forward against Bel Air in the state semifinals; and what he’s seen from the Howard athletic programs as a whole over his last four years.

Howard girls lacrosse player Ella Orzechowski also joins us for a segment starting at the 9:19 mark. We ask her about the Lions’ run so far and what has sparked them; expectations for their state semifinal game against Dulaney, which beat Howard in come-from-behind fashion early in the season; how a tough county prepared them for their run; and how last year’s state semifinal defeat is fueling them.

Brent Kennedy talks about Howard softball falling short to Sherwood in its 100th straight victory at the 17:51 mark; Mt. Hebron being the lone county team left after beating Long Reach in a tough game at the 19:21 mark; and the explosion of young talent, especially at Long Reach, in the league this season at the 21:40 mark.

Brent Kennedy touches on the three baseball teams remaining – Mt. Hebron, Marriotts Ridge and Howard – at the 25:51 mark and where and when they play their respective region finals on Friday.

"He's an 'old school' two-way midfielder who can score or feed with the best of them," said Lions coach Jimmy Creighton. "We could rely on Alex to stop an opposing teams midfielder on defense and run by someone on offense. His ability to push transition and pick up ground balls allowed us to gain odd man situations resulting in many goals during his varsity career."

Stephanos, who will play at Howard Community College next spring, finished the year with 62 ground balls, 32 goals and 23 assists — good for 10th in the county in points.

Faceoff

Felix Knorr, Howard.

One of the biggest reasons why Howard had so much success in its undefeated 2015 season was because Ryan Land won nearly 72 percent of his face-offs and dominated most of the ground ball battles. With Land lost to graduation, Knorr stepped right in and picked up where his predecessors left off.

Just a sophomore, Knorr won 217 of 314 draws, a 69.1 percent success rate. He also scooped up 123 ground balls, which was tied for third best in the county this spring, and was simply consistent this season from start to finish.

"A technician on the face-off, a true student of the game," Lions coach Jimmy Creighton said. "He would study each and every opponent and make in game adjustments when necessary. His ability to gain possessions off the face-off helped us win many games this year."

Defense

Jackson Hill, Reservoir.

Hill finishes his career as the only defenseman to start all four years at Reservoir. Gators coach Bryan Cole raved about Hill's ability to do everything on the defensive end from playing close defense, to creating turnovers and starting transition. But his leadership and ability to hold everyone on the team accountable was his biggest attribute.

"Jackson was our guy who helped bring our defense together and communicate with the midfielders," Cole said. "He had a large impact on our slide packages and our overall positioning and you need that. You need someone when everyone is tired to tell them what to do. He's a guy who really brought us together.

"It speaks volumes when you have attackmen who have been playing the game for 10-plus years listening to a long pole. That's a testament to him and his ability to be a leader. He commanded the respect of his teammates."

Hill ended the season with a county-high 62 caused turnovers and tied for ninth with 84 ground balls.

Matt Leone, Mt. Hebron.

Coming off a first-team all-county selection in 2015 and already one of the best defenders in the county, Mt. Hebron leaned even more on Leone this season when Will Hamman suffered a season-ending injury early in the year. But Leone took that responsibility and ran with it, becoming Player of the Year Casey DuBois' most reliable teammate on the defensive end. He finished in the top five in the county with 107 ground balls.

"Leone was for the most part the guy who would play the opposing team's best attackman or midfielder," said Vikings coach Mike McCarthy. "He's a really good off-ball defender — intercepting passes, knocking balls down. He would take the ball away from kids, he could slide and break out and create transition. I think he had nine assists and a goal and countless other transition's created because of him. ... He's a Division-I talent. We're going to miss him."

Leone finishes his career as a four-year varsity starter and two-time team captain, and he will play at Howard Community College next year.

Evan Riss, Oakland Mills.

Riss was undoubtedly the biggest reason Oakland Mills won eight games this spring and was competitive in most of its games. A Player of the Year candidate, Riss finished the year with some remarkable stats for a long-pole defenseman: 37 goals and 43 assists, good second-most points in the county with 80, to go with a league-leading 163 ground balls and 52 caused turnovers, third-most in the county.

Oakland Mills junior Evan Riss talks about his team's 13-12 victory over Sparrows Point to finish 2-0 at the Oakland Mills tournament. (Tim Schwartz/Howard County Times video)

"He's the quarterback of both the offense and defense," said Scorpions coach Skip Darden. "As a leader he understands the importance of getting his teammates involved in the game on both ends of the field. ... His presence on the wing at that face-off has given me a level of confidence that a 50-50 ground ball now becomes an 80-20 ground ball in our favor."

Riss, who has already committed to play at Ohio State University, had at least one point in every game this spring. In his three-year career, he has amassed 94 goals, 66 assists, 398 ground balls and 106 caused turnovers.

Josh Vetter, Howard.

A Player of the Year candidate, Vetter was a true shutdown defender in every sense this spring. He constantly guarded opposing team's top offensive threat and did so with success, which was much needed after Howard lost all-county defenders Marshall McGlone and Adam Friedman to graduation last year.

"Josh was relied upon to guard the opposing teams' best offensive player each and every game this year," said Lions coach Jimmy Creighton. "His ability to take the ball away and then pick the ball up immediately after doing so is second to none. He's a true student of the game; like having another coach out there."

Vetter, who finished sixth in the county with 88 ground balls, will play lacrosse at Roanoke College next spring.

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Goalie

Collin McClelland, Howard.

A first-team all-county selection for the second straight season, McClelland has been a constant force for Howard the last two years. His 68.3 save percentage was second-best in the league a year ago and he followed it up with a 67.3 percentage this spring, again second-best behind Player of the Year Casey DuBois.

"He was rock in the goal all year long and he is our vocal and emotional leader as one of our captains," said Lions coach Jimmy Creighton. "He is a guy who can make the unreal one-on-one save and also make all the saves one should make. He's everything a coach wants in a goalie. His leadership in and out of the goal will be missed most."

McClelland will play lacrosse for Lynn University, a Division-II school in Florida, next spring.

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