In a back and forth game that saw neither team lead by more than two goals, the Manchester Valley boys lacrosse team pulled out a 7-6 victory at Reservoir on March 24.
"It was really tough. We knew coming in that Reservoir was a solid team, very well coached and we would have to play four quarters down to the final minute to have a chance to win," said Mavericks coach John Piper. "Being a small school, coming in here – Howard County has some great lacrosse – that's one reason we scheduled this one. ... Any chance we get to sharpen the sword, so to say, we'll take it."
In the end, the difference was Manchester Valley senior Colin Piper. He scored four goals – including the first two to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 tie – to lead the Mavericks to victory.
"He's been a God send," Piper said of his son. "He's a coach on the field, a captain and he understands the game really well. The kids listen and respond to him."
The Gators got two goals each from freshman Tyler Reiff and Max Zester, but couldn't find the net again after Zester's second goal with 9 minutes, 51 seconds remaining.
"It's disappointing. You're in a game, up and down, that you can win and you don't," said Reservoir coach Bryan Cole. "We went on a run there late in the game we just couldn't get it done. The guys played well and we had opportunities that we left on the field."
The pace of the first half was slow and full of turnovers on both sides, but the Gators controlled possession throughout. Reiff scored the only goal of the first quarter on an unassisted goal 2:18 into the game, and he kept the momentum into the second quarter with another unassisted tally to put Reservoir up 2-0.
Piper and the Mavericks, however, answered soon after. Piper netted back-to-back goals with 6:17 and 2:01 left in the quarter to tie the game, and Adam Bien gave his team a 3-2 lead entering the half with a goal just 20 seconds before the buzzer.
"That's a team that just grinds games out," Cole said. "... They just keep coming and coming and coming, and that's what we were prepared for."
The game picked up in a hurry in the third quarter, and once again it was the Gators who found the net early. Zester scored on an assist from Jessie Eckstrom 1:14 into the half to tie it at 3-3 before Eckstrom gave his team the lead at 4-3 on a goal of his own just 16 seconds later.
Piper again scored when his team needed him most with 17 seconds left in the quarter, tying the game at 4-4, but the Mavericks were called for a three-minute, un-releasable penalty for a stick violation to open the fourth quarter.
Reservoir took advantage quickly on a goal by Logan Mitchell, but Manchester Valley gained possession soon after and Piper scored his fourth goal by beating a double team with his team still down a man.
Though the Gators responded with a Zester goal 18 seconds later, John Piper said his son's goal gave his team a much-needed spark.
"It was extremely important to fight off that penalty. The kids started hanging their head a little bit, and coach Kincaid said, 'Look, we handle adversity and let's do whatever we can to get out of it.' The kids responded," coach Piper said.
The Mavericks fought off the penalty and trailed 6-5, but Piper assisted Jacob Shinsky's game-tying goal with 8:10 left, and Logan Garland scored the eventual game-winner with 5:53 remaining.
"The one thing I'm confident of is that this team is scrappy and they fight for everything they're going to get and we just hope for the best at the end of the game," coach Piper said. "We were lucky. It could have easily been the other way around."
The Gators had chances late in the game, but Cole pointed to some untimely turnovers and poor shot selection as reasons his team couldn't get the trying score.
"We could have shot a little better throughout the game, but at the end of the game we took a shot from 20 yards out that really cost us," he said. "It was the wrong time and we were on (the extra man offense), and it was right to his stick. There were two or three shots like that and two or three possessions were huge in this game.
"They fight, they battle until the end. I love what they do, I just don't love how they do it sometimes."
Manchester Valley 7, Reservoir (0-1 county, 0-2 overall) 6
Goals: MV – Colin Piper 4, Adam Bien, Jacob Shinsky, Logan Garland; Re – Tyler Reiff 2, Max Zester 2, Logan Mitchell, Jessie Eckstrom
Assists: MV – Piper 2, Dan Johnston, Garland, Shinsky; Re – Eckstrom, Kevin Obler
Saves: MV – Dan Mangold 8; Re – Callan Weith – 8
Halftime: 3-2, Manchester Valley
Atholton (1-0 county, 2-0 overall) 12, Winters Mill 10
Goals: A – Talbott Gottwals 3, Rick Mooney 3, Jake Peretti 2, Joey Brewer, Max Bryant, Matt Barila, Chad Mowrey; WM – Love 4, Eyseman 2, Markovic 2, Johnson, Bodden
Assists: A – Gottwals 2, Brewer 2, Mooney, Peretti, Jake Topper; WM – Eyseman 4, Markovic, Love
Saves: A – Darren Kasoff 14; WM – Peters 13
Halftime: 6-4, Atholton
Catonsville 10, Oakland Mills (0-1 county, 0-2 overall) 5
Goals: C – N/A; OM – Khaaliq Canada 3, Jack Schurman, Evan Riss
Assists: C – N/A; OM – Riss, Kevin Paez
Saves: C – N/A; OM – Andy Osiander 15