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Marriotts Ridge senior goalkeeper Colin Kelley is the 2019 Howard County boys lacrosse Player of the Year.
Marriotts Ridge senior goalkeeper Colin Kelley is the 2019 Howard County boys lacrosse Player of the Year. (Doug Kapustin / for Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Creating a game plan to get through the Marriotts Ridge defense this season was hard enough for opposing coaches. But when the last line of defense was senior goalie Colin Kelley, the strategy to score goals was exponentially more difficult.

Glenelg’s scout said not to shoot if he’s locked in on you. “Wasted rubber on the cage,” Gladiators coach Josh Hatmaker said, and don’t shoot directly at his feet. He collapses on the ball too well.

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Howard coach Jimmy Creighton told his players not to get caught up in how active and athletic Kelley is in the cage. “You have to make him move and get him off his line to have a shot,” he said, “and you have to shoot well with accuracy and with power.”

Mt. Hebron coach Mike McCarthy said Kelley “deflates your offense” because he would make four of five saves every game that he shouldn’t make.

“What little success we had against him, it took a lot of work and a lot of high-volume shots,” added McCarthy. “You knew every game that he was the ‘x’ factor and you knew when it came down to it, pretty much every game of his career he was one of the best on the field, if not the best player on the field.”

Kelley, the first Mustang to be named Howard County Times/Columbia Flier boys lacrosse Player of the Year, garnered All-County honors the last three seasons and was a thorn in the side of every team that Marriotts Ridge played against the last four years. But this spring, Kelley’s consistency and mental fortitude made the Mustangs and their defense one of the best Howard County and the state had to offer.

“I feel like the consistency was the biggest part of it because I feel like last year I had good games, average games and below average games,” said Kelley, who will play collegiately at Mercer University. “But this year I really felt like I didn’t really dip below that average. I thought I had pretty much good games across the board.”

Good games night in and night out would be an understatement. Kelley was dominant in the Marriotts Ridge cage this spring, as the team allowed just 59 goals in 16 games — good for 3.7 goals against, which was nearly two goals per game better than the next best team in the league. Only 49 shots snuck past Kelley, while he stopped 122, and he owns the school record for wins and saves (608) in a career.

“This season, he was incredible,” Mustangs coach Tony Incontrera said. “He gave up three goals per game. ... We had some really good players down there [on defense], but it all starts with Colin. His play gives everyone else confidence. He was pretty much lights out this season.”

He was even better against county opponents and teams that have scouted him for years. Against Howard and Atholton, he allowed only one goal. Versus Centennial, he allowed only two. River Hill was barely better with three. Glenelg, which averaged more than 13 goals per game and scored double-digit goals 14 times, got him for six goals in each of its two meetings.

His success shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed lacrosse in Howard County in recent years. Kelley has been one of the best goalies in the area since his freshman season, which was delayed after he broke a finger on the third day of practice and was forced to watch and learn for several weeks. He eventually earned the starting job and finished the year with a 55.8 save percentage to earn second-team All-County honors, but the Mustangs finished with a below .500 record at 2-5 in county and 7-10 overall.

“Playing with 18-year-old adults and trying to come in there as a 13-year-old and help them win, it was definitely difficult,” Kelley said.

But as Kelley grew, so did Marriotts Ridge. During his sophomore campaign in 2017, he was the league’s best goalie and the Mustangs won their first outright county championship. What he remembers most about that season, however, was the one-goal defeat to Glenelg in the 2A South region, Section I final.

The consistency Kelley says put him over the top this spring was on display for parts of last year, too, especially in the postseason. After a first-round playoff victory over Oakland Mills, Marriotts Ridge faced Glenelg once again for a shot to play in the regional final. Kelley was the best player on the field that day and the Mustangs won, 7-6, in double overtime to spark a run to the state championship game for the first time in program history.

Underdogs against a powerful Hereford team that boasted a 60-goal scorer, Kelley and the Marriotts Ridge defense controlled the game and won, 8-6, to capture the first state championship in school history. Kelley made six saves in the game and finished the season as a first-team All-County selection with 147 saves and a 65 save percentage.

“I’ll remember that two-week period forever, from Glenelg to Hereford. Every single day at practice it felt like the first day of practice. Everyone was flying around,” Kelley said. “And getting there and accomplishing it with those guys, it was the coolest thing ever. I’ve never been happier in my life. It felt like everything I had ever done remotely related to lacrosse paid off in one instant.”

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2019 Howard County boys lacrosse final statistics
2019 Howard County boys lacrosse final statistics (Howard County Times)

Marriotts Ridge couldn’t repeat as state champions this season, though it did finish undefeated in county play for the first time and won the program’s second county title in three years. Glenelg returned the favor and beat the Mustangs in overtime in the sectional final on May 13 and went on to win the 2A state title. “The curse,” Kelley called it, because whichever team wins the regular season game between the two schools has been upset in the playoffs the last two years.

His high school career ended earlier than expected, but Incontrera is certain Kelley left a lasting impact on the program and the school. He said Kelley had opportunities to play for private schools in the area but never left. Instead, he built a legacy that will be hard to match.

“A kid like Colin with his humility and reputation, he does a lot for our program for encouraging other kids to stay [in public school] and play for Marriotts Ridge. You could argue that he’s the most important player that we’ve had come through,” Incontrera said. “He’s a four-year starter in the goal, set the saves record and is also going on to play Division I lacrosse. And it’s more than that; it’s the way he leads, the way he leads by example.”

Kelley has no regrets. He said he’s most proud of how he and his teammates turned a program that was in the middle of the pack into one that expects to compete for county, region and state titles every year.

“That difference in mentality and the culture of the program,” Kelley said, “I hope I left that mark on the school. The people in the organization and the people I played with, there’s a reason I am here today. I am not the person or goalie I was four years ago — nowhere close to it — and that’s just a result of having awesome people around me. To describe that, I’m just thankful. There is no synonym for that.”

Also named to the All-County first team:

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2019 Howard County boys lacrosse All-County teams
2019 Howard County boys lacrosse All-County teams (Howard County Times)

ATTACK

Mateo Brown, Mt. Hebron, junior

Brown is a C. Markland Kelly award finalist in Class 3A for good reason. The junior made first team this spring after earning second team honors last year and finished the 2019 season with a team-high 45 goals and 23 assists and tied for sixth in the league with 68 points. More importantly, according to coach Mike McCarthy, is that he became a much-needed team leader.

“Mateo asserted himself as a leader on and off the field this year,” McCarthy said. “He is a great player, excellent student and a role model for our underclassmen. They should look up to his work ethic in the weight room and the amount of effort that he spends on his stick work and shooting.”

Brown scored in 14 of the 15 games he played in and had a seven-goal, two-assist performance against J.M. Bennett in the Fight for 5 tournament in April. He has 109 career goals and 49 assists and is committed to the Air Force Academy.

Jeff Bruner, Howard, junior

Bruner was a second-team All-County midfielder last year, but moved forward to fill the role left by his older brother Mark at attack this spring. He performed admirably and was the Lions’ most consistent scorer, notching 11 games with multiple goals. Coach Jimmy Creighton called Bruner “the quarterback of the offense.”

“Jeff is a big and strong athletic player who can use his physicality and quickness to create separation for his own shots or to draw slides to create for others,” Creighton added. “He did this often all season.”

Bruner had one of his best games against South River. He had three goals and two assists and tied the game late in the fourth quarter. He also had nine goals in five playoff games to help Howard reach the 4A state championship game.

Michael Doughty, Glenelg, senior

A year after finishing third in Howard County in points with 78, Doughty led the county this spring in assists (45) and points (96) and was fourth in goals (51) for the state champion Gladiators. He saved his best for last, however, registering 23 points in five playoff games, and overall he scored in 17 of their 19 games and at least one point in every contest. He had 12 hat tricks and nine games with at least six points and was named the C. Markland Kelly award winner as the best player in Maryland’s Class 2A.

Doughty, who will play collegiately at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, finished his career with 89 goals and 137 assists and is the fourth-leading scorer and third all-time in assists for Glenelg.

“He is one of the smartest, toughest, and most skilled to ever play at Glenelg,” coach Josh Hatmaker said. “Michael is dynamic in the way he understands the game and not only is our biggest threat to shoot and score but also [excels with] his ability to breakdown defenses and get many others involved.”

Max Friedman, River Hill, senior

Friedman missed his entire junior season after tearing his ACL late in the preseason, and despite not being 100 percent healthy this spring, he was River Hill’s most dynamic player. He finished fifth among county public school players in goals (45) and fourth in points (73) and ended his career 10th in school history with 139 points.

“There were times where he carried our team and gave us a chance to win games single-handedly,” coach Keith Gonsouland said.

Friedman twice scored six goals in a single game — against Mount Saint Joseph and Mt. Hebron, during which he scored the final three goals and the game winner in the final seconds.

“In both of those games, he carried our team on his back,” Gonsouland said.

MIDFIELD

Talon Campbell, Reservoir, senior

Simply put, Campbell is the best player to ever put on the Gators blue and orange jersey. The four-year varsity player led the team in goals and points the last three years and had his best season this spring with a county-best and school-record 64 goals and 84 points, second-most in the league. For his career, Campbell ended with 164 goals and 220 points, both school records. He will play at UMBC next year.

“As a leader, Talon’s patience is one of his best attributes,” coach Bryan Cole said. “As a player, his speed and shot speed are at the college level. Talon has determination, grit, speed and ability.”

Campbell scored 14 goals in one day this spring to lead Reservoir to the Paint Branch Tournament title. He had nine goals against Hammond and eight versus Oakland Mills. He scored in 14 of 15 games and had three or more points 12 times.

Henry Frazier IV, Howard, senior

Injuries nearly completely derailed Frazier’s season. A broken wrist cost him several games but he battled through and actually returned to play with a cast and scored two goals against Huntingtown.

Once he got healthy, though, he was one of the best players in the league and proved it in the postseason. He scored a hat trick in a 4-3 win over Catonsville and saved his best for last by burying four goals in the state championship game against Severna Park.

“Henry is quick and fast and he used this to his advantage when healthy,” coach Jimmy Creighton said. “He would make one move and run by defenders for his strong shot on the run. Henry is a hard worker and cares so much about the team being successful. This made him a player that guys wanted to play harder for.”

Ryan Hopkins, Glenelg, senior

Hopkins could do it all in the middle of the field. He could break down defenders on the run and had the ability to finish when asked to. Hopkins had 22 goals and 16 assists last year but improved those numbers this spring, finishing with 31 goals and 12 helpers, and had some of his best games against the best competition. He had four goals against Broadneck, three against Westminster and two versus Hereford and Century in the state semifinal and championship game, respectively.

“Ryan is a gym rat and has the ability to play shut down defense, take wings to dig ground balls and clear the ball at will,” coach Josh Hatmaker said. “Definitely an old school midfielder. ... Ryan was our most dynamic threat in the midfield.”

Tyler Reiff, Glenelg, senior

A first-team selection for the third straight year, Reiff made his impact all over the field this spring and put the team first. He saw his goal total drop from 43 in 2018 to 27 this season but remained a large part of the offense and still scored in several key games: three against Howard, two versus River Hill and one against Southern, Hereford and Century deep in the playoffs.

“The bull of the midfield, Tyler would rather go through you than around you, and his shooting style is incredibly hard to save because he is always coming down hill,” coach Josh Hatmaker said.

Reiff finished his three-year Glenelg career with 103 goals and 35 assists.

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Watch interviews with Glenelg players and coach Josh Hatmaker and highlights from their MPSSAA boys lacrosse 2A state championship victory against Century on May 22, 2019.

FACE OFF

Andrew Luciano, Marriotts Ridge, junior

Marriotts Ridge coach Tony Incontrera wasn’t shy when he described Luciano’s impact this spring, saying, he “may have been the most important player for us this past season.”

The Mustangs’ dominant defense wouldn’t have been as stellar if it weren’t for Luciano, who won 172 face offs and lost just 66, good for a winning percentage of 72. He also saw time in the midfield and had 11 goals and four assists, which includes a hat trick in a one-goal victory over South River. His 167 ground balls led the county.

“He prevented teams from getting on runs and allowed us to score in quick spurts that made it difficult for opponents to recover from,” Incontrera said.

DEFENSE

Ricky Fedorchak, Marriotts Ridge, senior

Fedorchak will go down as one of the best defenders to ever play at Marriotts Ridge. He finished as the school’s all-time leader in caused turnovers and had 49 this spring to go with a goal and four assists and 77 ground balls. The repeat first-team selection will play at UMBC next spring.

“This year, he recovered from a torn labrum in both shoulders to become one of the most dominant defenders in the county and part of a first-line defense that allowed just 49 goals in 16 games,” coach Tony Incontrera said. “He is excellent on ground balls and in transition. He’s a great leader as well.”

Stafford Smith, Centennial, senior

Smith started every game of his four-year varsity career and played an integral part in Centennial’s success. A two-year captain, he consistently guarded the opposing team’s best player and was counted on to secure ground balls and cause turnovers.

“We could always count on Stafford to win a ground ball, and he was exceptionally good at creating transition offense,” coach Nick Kellinger said. “He took the wing on almost every faceoff, and even took a few face offs.”

One of Smith’s biggest moments came in the 3A state semifinals last year when he scored a goal late in the first half to spark the Eagles’ comeback against Northern. Kellinger said Smith will be remembered for his leadership.

“The way he galvanized his teammates took our entire defense to another level,” he said.

Ben Stephanos, Howard, senior

A Player of the Year candidate and one of two All-Americans from the county, Stephanos was the “heart and soul” and a “true leader” of the Lions, according to coach Jimmy Creighton. He led all county players in caused turnovers (68) and finished first all-time in Howard history with 199 to go with 280 career ground balls. He started every game over the last four years and consistently defended the best player on the other team.

“He is one of the hardest working guys we have ever had,” Creighton said. “He came back from a torn labrum better than ever, was in better shape than guys who were completely healthy, and he is a physical type of defender who drives guys out and throws timely checks when they are off balance to put the ball on the ground.”

Ben Ward, Marriotts Ridge, senior

Ward played just one year for the Mustangs after transferring from Loyola Blakefield but had an immediate impact on the county’s top defense. He had 42 caused turnovers and scooped 49 ground balls on the season.

“He’s one of the smartest players on the field and could be counted on to help direct the defense and recognize situations and react accordingly,” coach Tony Incontrera said. “He was a physical presence on ball as well, and consistently held his opponent without a goal.”

Ward is committed to play at Mount Saint Mary’s.

GOALIE

Matt Hubbard, Howard, senior

Hubbard shared time in goal as a sophomore and junior but took the starting job and ran with it this spring. He led all county goalies in save percentage (72) and saves (243) and finishes third in Howard history in saves made (311). Hubbard made double-digit saves in 16 of the Lions’ 19 games and played some of his best lacrosse in the postseason, making a season-high 22 stops in a 6-5 upset win against Urbana in the region final.

“He was peppered with shots and was up to the task throughout,” Creighton said. “It was a performance to remember for any goalie. ... Matt wanted to win and be successful. His drive to win is probably one his biggest attributes. He has quick hands and his feet improved this season, which showed during his great senior year performance.”

SECOND TEAM

Will Hopkins, Glenelg Country, freshman, attack

Peter Krawczyk, Centennial, senior, attack

Mark Rolewicz, Chapelgate, senior, attack

Tommy Ruddo, Marriotts Ridge, junior, attack

Garrett Snyder, Mt. Hebron, junior, attack

Joe Thompson, Oakland Mills, sophomore, attack

Danny Herlihy, Mt. Hebron, senior, midfield

Nolan Krasnick, Atholton, junior, midfield

John Miller, Marriotts Ridge, sophomore, midfield

Ty Sams, Centennial, junior, midfield

Mason Davis, Glenelg, junior, face off

Christian Bond, River Hill, junior, defense

Danny Florenzo, Mt. Hebron, junior, defense

Danny Massillon, Oakland Mills, senior, defense

Martayn Van de Wall, Glenelg, senior, defense

John Kennedy, Glenelg, senior, goalie

Cody Stockenberg, Mt. Hebron, senior, goalie

MIAA B CONFERENCE ALL-STARS

Will Hopkins, Glenelg Country, freshman, attack

Riley Martin, Glenelg Country, senior, midfield

Brayden Franey, Glenelg Country, junior, goalie

MIAA C CONFERENCE ALL-STARS

Mark Rolewicz, Chapelgate, senior, attack

Eric Yang, Chapelgate, senior, midfield

ALL-AMERICANS

Colin Kelley, Marriotts Ridge, senior, goalie

Ben Stephanos, Howard, senior, defense

MAN OF THE YEAR

Tom Minard

BOB SCOTT AWARD

Sam Wiley, Mt. Hebron, senior

ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR

Tommy Minard, Marriotts Ridge

ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS

Ricky Fedorchak, Marriotts Ridge, senior

Martayn Van de Wall, Glenelg, senior

COACH OF THE YEAR

Josh Hatmaker, Glenelg

2019 FINAL STANDINGS

Marriotts Ridge*: 7-0 county, 14-2 overall, 161 goals for, 59 goals against

Glenelg^: 6-1 county, 13-6 overall, 249 GF, 132 GA

Centennial: 7-2 county, 11-5 overall, 156 GF, 91 GA

Wilde Lake: 3-2 county, 8-8 overall, 135 GF, 163 GA

Howard: 4-3 county, 13-6 overall, 156 GF, 102 GA

River Hill: 5-4 county, 7-9 overall, 162 GF, 144 GA

Oakland Mills: 2-3 county, 6-7 overall, 133 GF, 125 GA

Atholton: 3-6 county, 6-10 overall, 143 GF, 173 GA

Mt. Hebron: 2-5 county, 6-11 overall, 152 GF, 174 GA

Reservoir: 2-7 county, 4-11 overall, 125 GF, 209 GA

Long Reach: 1-4 county, 5-8 overall, 111 GF, 134 GA

Hammond: 0-5 county, 1-10 overall, 51 GF, 144 GA

Chapelgate: 6-7 MIAA C, 6-9 overall, 115 GF, 155 GA

Glenelg Country: 9-3 MIAA B, 15-4 overall, 172 GF, 133 GA

*County champion

^2A state champion

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