It was strange to see Severna Park’s potent offense shut down for almost the entire first half. Broadneck did a superb job of playing keepaway while the favored Falcons were off target with their shots in being held scoreless for more than 20 minutes on Monday night at Old Mill High.
However, a couple penalties on the Bruins gave the Falcons life and a lightning-quick three-goal run jump-started another victory in the county championship game.
Senior midfielder Chase Cope scored three goals while senior attackman Jack Thomas totaled two goals and an assist as Severna Park beat archrival Broadneck, 9-7, to capture its 13th county championship since 1998.
“It was a real tough game. Hat’s off to Broadneck, which really brought it tonight. I thought they had a great game-plan against us,” Severna Park head coach Dave Earl said. “We struggled shooting in the first half, were off target a bunch of times and hit a few pipes. I just encouraged our guys to keep firing away and they would start falling.”
Sophomore attackman Michael Harmeyer scored two goals while senior midfielder Josh Coffman contributed a goal and an assist for Severna Park (12-2), which has now won three straight county crowns. Goalkeeper Shane Carr recorded 15 saves to anchor a solid defensive effort for the Falcons, who shut out the Bruins in the second quarter then held them to one goal in the fourth.
“I can’t say enough about Shane Carr. What an amazing game he had. Shane was absolutely lights out and really kept us in it,” Earl said. “Also, our young defense really stepped up. They’re growing up and showing some flashes of becoming a pretty good unit.”
Severna Park starts junior Matthew Alton and sophomores Ben Morgan and Trent Bellotte on defense. That group was solid in front of Carr, forcing Broadneck to take the type of shots the goalie wanted to see.
Junior attackman Keegan Houser scored two goals and assisted another to lead Broadneck (10-5), which was seeking its first county championship since 2001. Senior attackman Brian Schwob scored two goals while junior attackman Peter Zercoe dished off two assists for the Bruins, who trailed 6-5 with 6:39 remaining in the third period and could not net the tying goal.
“It’s awesome and means a lot,” Cope said of being part of a third straight county championship team. “Broadneck is a tough opponent, our big rival and it always feels good to beat them.”
Broadneck executed its game-plan perfectly for the first quarter and a half – controlling possession, running methodical offense and taking time off the clock. That was due largely to the work of junior faceoff specialist Vinny Facciponti, who dominated the draws.
Houser beat his defender from behind and fired a bounce shot past Carr to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 1:15 remaining in the first quarter.
It remained that way for most of the second quarter as both teams played solid defense. There were plenty of shots from both sides, but most were wide, high or hit the pipe.
Broadneck committed a slashing penalty with 4:22 to go in the second quarter and that ignited a three-goal flurry that gave Severna Park a 3-1 lead at halftime.
Hansen made a beautiful inside feed to Dean Draughn on the crease and the senior midfielder turned and fired a point-blank shot into the top corner to tie the score at the 3:45 mark. Moments later Thomas drove from behind to 10 yards beyond the goal before stopping and unleashing a hard shot that beat goalie Brandon Hall (8 saves), making it 2-1 with 2:03 remaining in the first half.
Broadneck was whistled for another slashing penalty on the ensuing faceoff and Severna Park capitalized again. This time, Thomas delivered the inside feed to Cope on the crease for another easy shot from the doorstep. After being shut out for 20 minutes and 15 seconds, the Falcons suddenly exploded for three tallies in the span of 2:24.
“We had two penalties right before halftime and that killed us because they cashed in. That little stretch was just so impactful,” White said. “We had control of the first half and those two penalties switched momentum around. Otherwise, our players executed the game-plan exactly the way we wanted.”
Severna Park scored twice in just 16 seconds early in the third quarter to increase its lead to four goals. Harmeyer dodged from goal-line extended and scored unassisted. The Falcons captured the faceoff and Cope took a couple steps inside the restraining lane then uncorked a cannon blast of a crank shot to make it 6-2 at the 10:26 mark.
Cope said the Falcons heeded the advice of their head coach and did not get frustrated by the first-half shooting struggles.
“We just kept shooting. Our offense was working, but our shots just weren’t falling,” said Cope, who is committed to the Naval Academy. “We just had to keep peppering the goal and eventually they would go in.”
Broadneck responded with a three-goal run to get right back in the game. Facciponti got things going by winning the faceoff, racing into the offensive zone and scoring off a nifty backhanded flip with 8:41 to go in the third.
Facciponti won the next couple draws to set up consecutive goals by Schwob that were both assisted by Zercoe as the Bruins cut the deficit to one (6-5) with 6:39 left.
However, Severna Park just would not allow Broadneck to get the equalizer with Cope scoring off another crank shot and Coffman dodging down the alley to convert from close range to push the advantage back to 8-5.
Houser found junior midfielder Parker Griffey open on the crease for a goal with just 5.2 seconds remaining in the period as Broadneck got back within two going into the final frame.
Harmeyer scored his second goal of the game off an assist from Coffman to give Severna Park a 9-6 lead with 8:03 to go in the game. The Falcons then succeeded in salting away most of the remaining time to close out the contest.
“We were really happy with our defensive performance. We did some different things and shut some guys off,” White said of holding Severna Park to single digits. “We just needed to score a few more goals. We got some quality looks at times and just could not finish.”
Broadneck attackman Carter Hall scored a meaningless goal with four seconds remaining to account for the final score. Playing the two-time defending state champions to such a close result was a real confidence-boost for the Bruins.
“It’s tough because Severna Park has four legitimate Division I kids, but we’re right there with that team,” White said. “We played them tough the first time, but that was a track meet. This game was more our style and that is because Facciponti kept giving us possession. With Vinny, it is make-it, take-it. He’s an absolute warrior. They had to bring the pole in to faceoff because they couldn’t get the ball.”
White was asked if he thinks Broadneck will see Severna Park for a third time in the postseason.
“I don’t want to look past Annapolis. I’ve been doing this too long. I respect the heck out of Annapolis so we have to put our total focus on that game,” he said. “Obviously, Severna Park is the team to beat, but we have to take one game at a time.”
Meanwhile, Severna Park will begin its quest for a third straight state title. Tuesday night provided a reminder the Falcons are far from unbeatable.
“I feel very confident, but any team can beat us at any time so we have to be prepared to play our best in every game from here on out,” Cope said.
Broadneck (10-5) 1-0-5-1=7
Severna Park (12-2) 0-3-5-1=9
GOALS: BN – Houser 2, Schwob 2, Facciponti, Griffey, Hall. SP – Cope 3, Thomas 2, Harmeyer 2, Draughn, Coffman. ASSISTS: BN – Zercoe 2, Houser. SP – Hansen, Thomas, Coffman.