The No. 8 Annapolis boys lacrosse team completed its mission last night at UMBC as it held off upstart Centennial, 7-5, to claim the Class 3A-4A state championship.
"These kids are the best group of kids I've ever coached," said Annapolis coach Dan Hart, shortly before getting drenched with a bucket of ice water.
"Everything that I wanted them to do they've done and I'm very demanding. I'm very demanding and I'm very intense but so be it. I asked them one day if they would want it any other way and they looked at me and said, 'No.' We were on a mission and we returned the state championship banner to where it rightfully belongs at Annapolis High School."
With Annapolis senior attackman Taylor Boone providing a bulk of the scoring with four goals and two assists and senior midfielder Morgan Hurt controlling 10-of-15 faceoffs the Panthers would not be denied.
Still, it wasn't easy.
No. 13 Centennial got on the scoreboard first 1:17 in the contest when Virginia Tech-bound attackman Brian Rowe scored an unassisted goal.
Senior midfielder Chris Harris answered for the Panthers (16-2 overall, 16-0 against public schools) when he fielded a loose ball behind the crease and fired it into the upper-left corner of the net.
The Panthers took the lead 55 seconds later as junior attackman Taylor Boone fed junior Eric Morgan a perfect crossing pass.
Boone appeared to have put Annapolis up by two during an extra-man opportunity but the goal was negated because of an inadvertent whistle.
Boone would not be denied, however, as he added an unassisted goal with 1:30 left in the first quarter, giving the Panthers a 3-1 lead.
Centennial (14-3) capitalized on the unsettled situations and penalties in the second quarter to secure a 5-4 halftime lead.
Junior attackman Jeff Iannarino pulled the Eagles back to within one early in the second quarter when his shot -- which was initially stopped by Annapolis goalie Tobin Poole -- caught the turf and trickled back through Poole's legs and past the plane of the goal.
Boone returned the margin to two for Annapolis on a feed from junior Josh Morgan but that was all the offense the Panthers would get before the half.
The Eagles closed out the period with three unanswered goals, including one each from Jason Rosenberg, Mike Shackelford and Joe Lowrance.
Boone found the goal early in the third quarter to knot the game at 5, but the Panthers' hopes of taking a lead into the fourth were shot down by Centennial's junior keeper Brian Carr, who came up with five saves in the quarter to keep the game deadlocked heading into the final 10-minute stanza.
Boone picked up his fourth goal 2:03 into the fourth on an assist from sophomore Travis Scholz and Boone later assisted Eric Morgan for the game's final goal.
"We weren't able to neutralize No. 30 [Hurt] or No. 10 [Dave Winegrad] on the faceoffs so they got the ball an awful lot and if you give a team like that the ball a lot they're going to stick it in the net," said Eagles coach Mike Siegert.
"We needed to get into a settled flow and they pressured us all over the place. We needed to slow the tempo and they wouldn't let us."