Two teams with something to prove faced off at UMBC stadium in yesterday's Class 3A-4A state boys lacrosse championship.
Nick Cowan, eighth-ranked Perry Hall's scoring leader with 64 goals and 38 assists, was out to show his team is among the elite.
Sixth-ranked Broadneck (16-1) wanted to do the same by winning its second straight state crown -- and third overall -- under coach Clay White.
As the boisterous crowd bore witness, each team accomplished its goal -- gaining the respect of the other in the process -- with the top-seed Bruins taking a 13-7 victory.
"This is incredible -- even better than last year," said All-County defensemen Alex Irmler, who teamed with Matt Conrad, Brian Dobson and keeper Sam Peterson (eight saves). "There's never been a back-to-back state champ in lacrosse at our school and we really wanted that."
It was only the second time since its 9-8 Region III title victory over Dulaney that Perry Hall (15-1) didn't score in double figures, relying on its all-junior attack of Cowan, Mike Faith and Jeff Taylor.
The Gators -- who start only two seniors -- entered the game averaging 15.6 goals, compared to 10 for Broadneck. Each team allowed an average of fewer than four goals.
Cowan scored five times yesterday, including three in a four-goal spurt -- the other was from Jeff Proctor -- to help turn an 8-3 Bruins lead into an 8-7 deficit.
"We lost our concentration," said Peterson. "But you've got to give it to them -- they stepped up and proved they deserved to be here."
The Bruins also stepped up, outscoring the Gators 5-0 in the fourth on goals by John Llengyel, Jeremy Ogas, Jason Hull, Matt Ploss and Rob Eckman.
"When we move the ball well and make the right decisions, everything goes right," said Ogas (two goals, three assists), who led all scorers, followed by Bob Hanna (three, one).
Ploss (three goals), Hull (two, one) and Eckman (two, one) also contributed.
The Bruins out-shot Perry Hall 5-0 over the game's first 5:17 -- 8-4 for the first period -- but keeper Brandon Hill (eight saves) stopped four of Broadneck's first five shots.
Llengyel scored nearly three minutes in after Hanna's pass split two defenders. Llengyel caught it, went one-on-one with Hill and beat Hill to the right.
Hanna took a feed from Hull for a 2-0 lead just 1:31 into the second, but Cowan's man-advantage goal on Faith's assist from behind the goal trimmed it to 2-1. Unassisted tallies by Hanna (at the 7:30 mark) and Hull (with 3:50 left) put the Bruins up 4-1.
Cowan's second goal -- with 55 seconds left -- made it 4-2, but Ploss responded 10 seconds later with a fast-break tally for a three-goal halftime lead.
At 7:23 of the third, Faith scored unassisted, but the Bruins made three straight over the next 1:13 to lead 8-3. Ogas was involved in all three goals, scoring unassisted before finding Hanna and Eckman, respectively.
The Cowan-led 4-0 surge brought the Gators within 8-7 entering the final period.
"I just started getting open and was in the right place at the right time," said Cowan. "Then they just stepped up the defensive pressure and took it from us. We only lose one player, so I think we'll be back here next year and take it."