The coach Brien McMurray era began at Severna Park last night with a 9-7 victory for the 10th-ranked Falcons over unranked Mount Hebron.
Blake Best scored four goals, Jeff Hoffman added a pair and Ben Hunt had a goal and an assist to lead the Falcons. Freshman goalkeeper Mike Gvozsden was brilliant in the cage with 12 saves, several of them remarkable, to pace the victors.
Sophomore Matt Berry pumped in three goals for the visitors and senior Brendan Moore scored twice. Vikings defender Michael Stokes and goalie Will Sepich helped hold the Falcons to one goal in the second half after they jumped out to an 8-2 lead.
Played in front of about 350 fans, including ex-coach Mike Bellotte at Roberts Field, the Falcons had to hold on against the much younger and smaller Vikings.
McMurray replaced Bellotte after the latter coached the Falcons for five seasons to a state title (1999), three region and two county titles and an overall 68-24 mark.
"That's all behind us now," said McMurray, referring to his hiring.
"The kids have gone past that. It's not an issue anymore. It's old news as far as we're concerned."
School officials did not renew Bellotte's contract mainly because he is not a certified teacher. McMurray, who is a veteran assistant coach and was a one-time head coach at Chesapeake, is a teacher and filed a grievance to land the job. He kept it despite several appeals by Bellotte.
"We're all just trying to bond together as a team, and make it a Severna Park lacrosse thing rather than a coaching thing," said Best, who is headed to Lehigh.
In what was the season opener for both teams, Severna Park raced out to an 8-2 first-half lead as Best pumped in three of his goals.
Mount Hebron, the defending Class 3A-2A state champion, regained its composure during the break to score four unanswered goals to make it an 8-6 game with 4:20 remaining.
"We're a very young team, graduated a lot of seniors and I think it took us the first half to settle in," said Mount Hebron coach Tom Minard.
"We had a little bit of a lull in the second period [5-1 Severna Park] and let them get those goals on us and take the big lead. We put Stokes on No. 9 [Best] in the second half because 9 was hurting us and is a very good player. Michael [Stokes] did a nice job and the other kids fed off him."