Fallston and Easton had the same number of playoff points, so a coin toss determined the higher seed for yesterday's boys lacrosse Class 1A-2A state semifinal at UMBC.
No. 8-ranked Fallston (14-1) won the flip, the No. 2 seed and its 14th straight, 10-5, over the third-seed Warriors (16-1), earning the right to play top-seeded, defending champ Towson in Wednesday's final.
Yet the winning margin was a surprise to many.
Fallston has outscored its opponents, 254-74, behind Brad Baker (43 goals, 28 assists), Dan Bowers (45, 16), Zack Karantonis (31, 31), Pete Dixon (28, eight), C. J. Lauer (25, 10), Todd Paradise (17, 16) and Joe Foley (14, 21), with Jason Haslback (18, two), Trevor Kolego (13, two) and Fred Scheckells (eight, 12) also contributing.
Easton's defense of Andrew Southworth, Ben Passya and Eric Zeuhlke allowed its most goals of the season, but also held the Cougars to their lowest total since a season-opening 13-7 loss to St. Paul's.
"This was our worst game of the year as a team," said Haslback, a senior who scored three times. "We were down 4-3 at halftime against St. Paul's, playing unselfish and not caring who did the scoring. If we play up to our ability, we should destroy Towson."
It looked early as if Fallston would destroy Easton, which has outscored its opponents, 174-74, behind Mark Posner (40, 35), Ben Fernon (32, 13), Tim Foote (18, nine) and Rick Norris (16, six), but trailed 4-0 after one quarter and 5-0 at the half, losing all seven faceoffs.
"They thought they'd score 20 goals on us, but we held them 10 below their average," said Easton coach Chris Hasbrouck, whose Warriors won the school's first Region II crown, the best since losing a first-round playoff game in 1985 after a 12-0 regular season.
"Give Easton a lot of credit for being tenacious out there, but we didn't even come close to playing as well as we can," said Fallston coach John Conley. "We had trouble catching, throwing and on ground balls. I think our kids were looking past them."
Four of Fallston's first five goals were assisted as the Cougars outshot the Warriors, 21-7, for the half and 15-4 in the first quarter. Sophomore keeper Greg Posner made 11 of his 21 saves to keep Easton in the game.
Karantonis fed Bowers after 22 seconds for a 1-0 lead before Haslback took assists from Baker and then Bowers to make it 3-0 with 3:15 left in the first period.
Baker scored unassisted 20 seconds before the second quarter and Lauer found Paradise with 3:38 left in the half, but the Cougars had problems penetrating Hasbrouck's zone defense the rest of the game.
Shortly after the Warriors won their first faceoff, Fernon scooped a ground ball and scored their first goal 16 seconds into the third period.
Fallston answered to lead 7-2 with 9:23 left, however, after Haslback's third goal of the game and Karantonis' second. The Warriors were outshot 8-6 in the period, failing to take advantage of four man-up penalties that totaled three minutes, 30 seconds.
Fallston's defense held against a 46-second, two-man advantage and the Cougars still led 9-3 entering the final period.
Bowers' second goal of the game made it 10-3 with 9:33 left, but Easton closed the scoring with goals from Brian Murphy at 6:51 and Mark Posner with 1:11 left.
"They move the ball very well, but they never really adjusted to [the defense]," said Hasbrouck, whose team out-shot Fallston 8-4 in the final period.
"We wanted to show that we could play quality lacrosse, but we were intimidated early. That's too bad, because I think it could have been closer."