The Marriotts Ridge boys lacrosse team is loaded with experienced seniors – especially on defense – but it was a trio of younger players who stepped up to help the Mustangs beat visiting South Carroll, 8-5, on March 29.
Sophomore Peter Geier carried the offense with a hat trick, junior Luke Goonan won 11 of 16 face-offs and freshman goalie Colin Kelley stonewalled the Cavaliers early and often en route to collecting eight saves. The veteran defense, led by seniors Bladen Miller, Casey Allwein and midfielder Casey Brennan, did the rest.
"Colin was outstanding, especially early holding off the flurry that they had," Marriotts Ridge coach Tony Incontrera said. "Him making those saves early on was huge, then as the game progressed Luke Goonan dominating those face-offs really helped us so we could get those extra possessions to ultimately win the game. It was a close game, but I think we kept them in it."
Though Goonan won all three face-offs in the opening quarter, the Cavaliers controlled possession for nearly 10 minutes after Mustangs sophomore Logan Frank netted the first goal 1 minute, 11 seconds into the contest. The Cavaliers launched seven shots toward Kelley, but the freshman came up with four saves in the period before Kyle Dizon finally scored with 28 seconds left in the quarter to tie the game at 1-1.
South Carroll coach Brad Widner said he would have liked to see his team take better advantage of the amount of time they controlled the ball and bury more shots.
"I think we did (have a chance to score more) and we were close," he said. "It would have gave us some momentum and got us to start clicking, but we could never make it over that hump to really get any sort of momentum going."
Like they did in the first quarter, the Mustangs offense clicked early in the second period, as Jake Polinsky scored 1:29 into the quarter to give his team a 2-1 lead. South Carroll, though, responded with a score by Sam Crossman, but Geier answered and netted his first goal with 31 seconds left before halftime to make it 3-2 in Marriotts Ridge's favor heading into the break.
Incontrera didn't need to talk to his team long at halftime to get the message across – stop wasting possessions.
"At halftime, what we focused on was valuing the ball," he said. "We thought we were doing a great job on defense. ... We just weren't valuing the ball on offense. We were turning the ball over and as soon as we started holding possession and finding looks inside we were fine. We were just turning the ball over and making stupid errors. We're still a really young team on offense so I think once we started getting in the flow of things we were fine."
Despite Dizon's second goal that tied the game at 3-3 early in the third quarter, the Mustangs offense finally started the click as Goonan continued to dominate the draws. Mitch Cassidy scored on an assist from James Slack, which was followed by Geier's second goal less than a minute later. Their first scoring streak continued when Lewy Anania found the net just 55 seconds later, and in the span of three minutes scored three goals to turn a 3-3 tie into a 6-3 lead.
"They started clicking and started flowing and this is a game of ups and downs and ebbs and flows. When they start flowing, they can go," Widner said. "They're a solid team and they've been a solid program for years. I give them credit. This was a grinding game and they won the face-offs and started moving the ball well."
The Cavaliers cut the deficit to two after a goal by Jimmy Wagner, but Marriotts Ridge senior Chase McCottry pushed it back to three with a goal with .7 of a second left in the third quarter.
Geier finished off the hat trick with a tally early in the final quarter, and the Mustangs limited South Carroll's scoring chances in the final minutes.
While Incontrera was pleased with how the true lefty attackman Geier stepped up and has "emerged as a go-to attackman," he said his offense has missed senior Troy Hensh, who scored 26 goals and was a second-team all-county attackman in 2015.
"Right now we're playing with no seniors on offense and I think not having that security blanket to kind of calm things down and get the guys all on the same page is really hurting us," he said. "Next week we're going to have Troy Hensh back, so that's going to be really nice to have. ... We have high expectations for him this year.
"I think the offense will be a little more settled. I think Troy brings a lot to the table in terms of his riding ability – last year he led the team in caused turnovers. ... I think that's what we're missing so far – a true leader on offense."
South Carroll, meanwhile, looked much improved after a thrashing against Howard over the weekend. Widner said his team is young and is looking better each time they take the field.
"Every game we're making strides to putting together a complete game. We're still a very young team," he said. "When our offense can control the ball we look good, we just need to do it consistently."
Marriotts Ridge (0-0 county, 2-2 overall) 8, South Carroll 5
Goals: MR – Peter Geier 3, Logan Frank, Jake Polinsky, Mitch Cassidy, Lewy Anania, Chase McCottry; SC – Kyle Dizon 2, Sam Crossman, Jimmy Wagner, Jake Klein
Assists: MR – Polinksy, Reed Kenny, Ellis Gloyd, James Slack, Anania; SC – Kyle Worsley
Saves: MR – Colin Kelley 8; SC – Evan Hock 4