Two weeks ago, Oakland Mills needed three overtime period to defeat Mount Hebron for the first time in 10 seasons.
Yesterday in the Class 2A-1A, Region I boys lacrosse championship game, all the Scorpions needed was a wake-up call.
After falling behind 5-1 early in the second quarter, Oakland Mills gradually took control during the next two periods and then blew away the visiting Vikings with eight goals in the fourth quarter to roll to a 17-8 victory.
The victory sends Oakland Mills (13-3) to the state playoffs for the first time since 1988, when the Scorpions lost to Mount Hebron in the final. The Scorpions, who endured back-to-back losing seasons before this spring's turnaround, will play in the state semifinals Saturday afternoon at UMBC.
"We've had to push them and push them to get them to reach their potential," said Oakland Mills coach Phil Stephenson, who predicted two months ago that the Scorpions would play in the state tournament. "We've had a number of games where we've had to come from behind. I don't like that, but to their credit, they slob away until they get it right."
The heroes were everywhere for Oakland Mills, beginning with a zone defense that used its size and positioning to put the clamps on Mount Hebron (8-6) after the Vikings had taken a 5-1 lead on a goal by Andrew Ward. With Theron Grim, Chris Sheldon and Geoff Henderson checking the Vikings, goalie Matt LeBlanc made 12 saves, including several terrific efforts.
The real story, though, was the Scorpions' offense. The Scorpions outscored Mount Hebron, 16-3, in the last 28 minutes.
Midfielders Shawn Madison and Shannon Hiteshew led the way. Madison scored six goals and had two assists. Hiteshew bulled his way inside the Mount Hebron defense to score three goals and had a game-high six assists.
It looked like Mount Hebron's game for a while. The Vikings led, 5-1, a minute into the second period.
But Hiteshew beat two Mount Hebron defenders and cut the lead to 5-2 midway through the period. Madison scored his second goal when he stripped Mount Hebron goalie Sean Buchanan on a clear attempt and hit the open goal. By halftime, Oakland Mills had crept to 6-5.
After a save by LeBlanc to start the second half, Madison tied the score at 6. Chris Constantino and Matt Cartwright then scored to give the Scorpions an 8-6 lead.
Mount Hebron closed to 9-8, but, in a two-minute span, Matt Cartwright, Constantino and Madison scored to stretch the lead to 12-8. By the time the Scorpions were through, they had hit eight of nine shots in the fourth period.