In a contest that saw neither team lead by more than two goals at any point, it seemed clear as time ticked away that the boys lacrosse game between River Hill and Good Counsel was going to be decided by one possession.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, that final possession on April 1 was left in the stick of Falcons defender Jonathan Hanson, who scooped up a ground ball and took it more than half the length of the field and fired his shot past goalie Noah Thyberg for the game-winning score.
"Jon Hanson, he's probably one of the hardest runners on our team. When you watch him play he runs really, really hard. He goes at one speed and that's 100 percent 100 miles per hour every play," said Good Counsel coach Matt Durkin, whose team won the game, 8-7, on the road. "He scooped the ball and nobody picked him up and he did the right thing and stuck to a good hard bounce shot. It worked out."
Jon Felix led the Hawks (1-0 county, 2-2 overall) with three straight goals between the first and third quarter, and Jake Friedman added two goals and an assist. Derek Isaac played perhaps the biggest role in the game, however, as he controlled 13 of the 18 face-offs, including a crucial one in the final minutes of regulation with his team down a goal and a man because of a penalty.
"We worked hard on our offense this week and just communicating," said Hawks coach Keith Gonsouland. "We worked on staying patient and that's what we do and we're trying to play together. I thought we got some very good looks, but give their goalie (Luke Strang) credit, he played outstanding today and he made some big saves. I was happy with the looks we got on offense. I thought our defense played well, too. We gave up eight goals and a few of them were a man down ... The kids kept fighting."
River Hill came out of the gates strong, controlling the possession and staying patient on offense. Friedman netted the first goal of the game less than five minutes in, and Felix put his team up 2-0 with a score on a feed from Danny Isaac a minute and a half later.
The Falcons, who compete in the Washington Catholic Athletic Association, started to figure things out and possessed the ball in the final five minutes of the quarter. Matthew Barry scored late in the quarter, and Jake Cates scored both of his goals in a slow second quarter to give Good Counsel a 3-2 lead at the half.
Again River Hill came out of a break strong, as Felix buried another shot and tied the game two minutes into the third quarter. Though Derek Isaac won five of the six draws in the quarter, Good Counsel (1-1 WCAC, 4-4 overall) forced several turnovers and turned them into goals from O'Connor and Luke Miller to take back a two-goal lead at 5-3.
"The thing I was really disappointed with was our clearing," Gonsouland said. "We were just very impatient and we didn't play cleanly there and that obviously turned into several opportunities for them. I feel like we should have had three or four more opportunities. We were getting good shots on goal and I feel if we could've cleared the ball more effectively we probably win the ball game."
The Falcons led 6-4 heading into the final quarter, but a one-minute stick-pocket penalty allowed the Hawks to set up the extra man offense and eventually a Danny Isaac goal 31 seconds into the quarter. Brendan McKenna then tied the game at 6-6 with 8 minutes, 46 seconds left on a great pass from Danny Isaac.
"The entire of context of the game was pretty close. Based on how my kids were playing we weren't necessarily going to pull away with it. It was going to stay pretty close," Durkin said. "We didn't have any penalties going into the fourth quarter and then we had two and a half minutes of penalties and I think they scored on at least one of them. That's how the game goes and it can change really quickly."
As much as the Good Counsel penalties hurt its team, River Hill had some costly ones late as well. A one-minute penalty then turned into a two-minute penalty after an unsportsmanlike call with 2:56 left, and Ryan Quinn put the Falcons up 7-6 with a goal on the extra man offense. Derek Isaac won the biggest face-off of the game after that, though, and the Hawks were able to hold the ball until the penalty was released and Friedman tied the game to force an extra period.
"I thought we were going to win," Gonsouland said. "I feel like with Derek at the face-off X, he gives us an opportunity to get possession and our defense is coming along. It's a work in progress and it's going to get better as the year goes on. All in all, I thought the kids played hard. Just a couple mental mistakes and good teams are going to capitalize on that."
In the end, Gonsouland was happy with what he saw from his team in their last game before finishing out the remaining 10 county games.
"Going into county play we've got a lot of work to do if we're going to win some games in Howard County against some of the better teams," Gonsouland said. "... Everybody is good and everybody is working on the same things to try and get ready for May. We're going to do our best to do the same."
Good Counsel (4-4) 8, River Hill (1-0 county, 2-2 overall) 7 (OT)
Goals: GC – Jake Cates 2, Thomas O'Connor 2, Matthew Barry, Luke Miller, Ryan Quinn, Jonathan Hanson; RH – Jon Felix 3, Jake Friedman 2, Danny Isaac, Brendan McKenna
Assists: GC – Russell Porter 2, Cates; RH – Isaac 2, Friedman, Max Friedman