By the end of the third quarter in yesterday's Class 1A/2A boys lacrosse title game at UMBC, Towson looked like an undefeated power about to fall. And Mount Hebron looked poised to win its second straight state championship.
But after Towson had fallen behind, 7-5, in the third period, the Generals roared back with three decisive fourth-quarter goals, then held off the Vikings to take an 8-7 victory and dethrone Hebron.
Towson finished its season with a perfect, 16-0 record and avenged a loss last year to Hebron in the state semifinals. Hebron, which was attempting to win its third state title under fifth-year coach Warren Michael, had a 13-game winning streak snapped and ended the season at 15-3.
The Generals needed a resourceful effort against a Vikings defense that frustrated Towson with a man-to-man strategy and shut out attackman Bill McLean (59 goals), Towson's leading scorer.
The Generals answered with four other weapons and great clutch defense of their own. Michael Ford, Ben Donovan, Barry Heddings and Scott Hoskins scored two goals apiece. Ford added three assists. And the Generals, behind goalie Lance Buckley (13 saves), held Hebron scoreless for the game's final 12 minutes.
"I thought we had a great year. That's a good team we played out there today," said Michael.
"I was disappointed we didn't shoot well at times, and we didn't make the right decisions at times. You can't do that against teams like this. And their goalie really came up big."
Buckley actually was outplayed by Hebron goalie Chris Parandian, who recorded 18 saves that followed his sensational, 20-save effort in Saturday's 11-10, overtime victory over Fallston in the semifinals.
But Buckley produced the tournament's biggest save late in the fourth period yesterday to preserve the 8-7 victory. After Hebron called a timeout with 2:03 left, Hebron midfielder Clay Shifflet broke away from a Towson defender and caught Buckley in a one-on-one situation. Buckley stepped up to the front of the crease to deflect Shifflet's hard ground shot.
Shifflett (one goal) was one of six Vikings who scored. Andrew Ballinger had two goals and one assist. Tom Huppmann had a goal and two assists. Carl Bochau, Doug Smith and Blair Hill had one goal each. Jason Vettori did the rest, collecting three assists and winning 13 out of 17 faceoffs.
The teams traded goals for the entire day, as they were never separated by more than two goals.
Hebron held the ball for more than eight minutes in the first quarter, which ended in a 1-1 tie. Ballinger scored his first goal midway through the second period to give Hebron a 3-2 lead, then gave the Vikings a 4-3 halftime lead with 1:36 left.
Towson countered with two goals in the second half to lead 5-4. The Vikings then rallied for three goals in a span of 1:30. When Hill scored from 15 yards out to make it 7-5, the Vikings led 7-5 with 1:52 left in the period and appeared headed for another title.
However, Towson ended Hebron's reign by holding the Vikings scoreless the rest of the way. Hoskins ended a 10-minute drought with 7:31 to go to pull the Generals to within 7-6.
Fifty seconds later Heddings tied it with a tough underhanded shot while rolling along the crease with a Hebron defender on top of him.
Heddings then scored the game-winner with 4:08 remaining.