Pikesville has been a strong second-half team this season, but the Panthers boys lacrosse team amazed even its coach with a third-period surge yesterday in the Class 2A-1A state semifinals in Bel Air.
The No. 13-ranked Panthers scored eight unanswered goals in the third quarter to beat Centennial, 15-7, and advance to the final for the first time since 1975.
The two halves looked like two different games.
In the first half, the teams took turns scoring and reached intermission tied at 5. Neither scored twice in succession until Centennial's Mike Down capitalized on a slip by the goalie to push the lead to 4-3 with 4:19 left.
Soon after the break, it became apparent that the game had changed. Andrew Schwartzman, Jason Green and Caleb Miller scored in quick succession to give Pikesville an 8-5 lead less than three minutes into the third period.
Schwartzman, a senior bound for the University of Delaware, scored three of his four goals in the second half to spark the rally that didn't wane until the margin reached 13-5. Miller also scored three in the second half, Green had two and Cory Williams two.
"That was just unbelievable," said Pikesville coach Taro Arrogancia. "That was one of the best quarters we played all year."
At halftime, Arrogancia provided a simple reminder to his team.
"I just told them that they needed to play to their potential," he said. "We were just coming out really flat. We needed to move the ball more and get open, and that's what happened. I did expect us to get some goals, but not eight goals in the third quarter."
The victory sends Pikesville (15-1) to the state final for the first time since it won the state championship 26 years ago.
"It feels good coming into a school that was a powerhouse back in the late '70s and '80s and rebuilding the program," said Arrogancia, who is in his eighth year as the Panthers' coach. "It is really good to see us come this far and make it to the finals."
Goals: P - A. Schwartzman 4, Miller 3, Williams 3, Fishel 2, Green 2, Hoffman. C - Down 2, Pippen, Dougherty, Stumpf, Teeters, Betz. Assists: P - Hoffman 2, Miller 2, Williams 2, A. Schwartzman 2, Fishel, Green. C - Calvert 2, Down. Saves: P - J. Schwartzman 20, C - Whitehurst 15. Half: 5-5.