Mount Hebron's lacrosse sticks and helmets soared so high into the night air that it seemed they'd never come down.
That's what senior Mount Hebron attackman Bryan Warner said was all he could think after the Vikings defeated Towson, 7-5, last night at UMBC Stadium to win their second Class 1A-2A state championship, and first state crown since 1991.
The years in between were filled with heartache and disappointment, including four state final losses -- three straight from 1995 through 1997 in overtime.
Warner, as he signed a child'slacrosse stick and smiled the satisfied smile of long-awaited victory, recalled how it felt to be a part of two of those losing teams.
"I have been where Towson is, and you mope and mope and mope," Warner said. "This was my last chance and it's the sweetest."
He masterfully directed Mount Hebron's attack, dishing out five assists, two to junior attackman Neal Goldman in the first half when the Vikings trailed 4-2 at halftime.
Warner also assisted sophomore attackman Mike Selawski on two early third-quarter goals that tied the game 4-4.
And then the Rutgers-bound Warner got the assist on Tom Tittsworth's go-ahead goal with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
"Bryan played a great game today," third-year Mount Hebron coach Jeff Doolan said. "He played within his role as feeder and carrier and leader on the field."
Mount Hebron (15-5) never trailed again, as Jeff Wunk scored on a long bounce shot off Goldman's assist with three seconds left in the quarter. The Vikings excelled all season at scoring with three seconds or less in the period. Their first goal yesterday came with one second left in the first quarter.
Towson did apply some late pressure when Gavin Kimball's one-handed twisting wrap-around shot made it 6-5 with 1: 56 left to play.
But Mount Hebron's Dave Smith won the ensuing faceoff and, with 1: 40 left, Tittsworth picked up a loose ball and scored left-handed high into the net.
Mount Hebron struggled in the first half, losing many ground balls on its defensive end and having trouble clearing against what Towson called a zone defense but resembled a man-to-man.
"I felt confident taking on their attack but we couldn't finish and their goalkeeper came up big," Towson long-stick defenseman Chris Brown said.
Like so many other teams this season that played against Mount Hebron, Towson's game plan was to possess the ball and keep it away from the Vikings' potent attack. And it was largely successful. The Generals outshot Mount Hebron, 20-14.
"We didn't play smart in the first half," Doolan said. "Towson was coached well and stuck to their game plan. I'm feeling a big sense of relief. "
For Towson (13-4), the season really started to come together in the playoffs and the Generals almost pulled off the upset victory.
"Everything went our way today but the final outcome," said Towson coach Ben Berquist, who was Doolan's teammate at Salisbury State. "Their goalkeeper [Dan Valente] came up big and we got tired mentally. Mount Hebron is a good team that cashes in on everything and Jeff is a good coach who has paid his dues. There were no losers tonight."
Pub Date: 5/27/99