There were doubts throughout the season for the Glenelg boys lacrosse team. The Gladiators started the campaign strong but dropped six straight games from March 30 to April 13 to fall to 3-6.
Since then, however, there have been no uncertainties. A month-long winning streak reached eight games on Wednesday, as Glenelg jumped all over visiting Southern-AA early and never looked back to win the 2A South regional championship, 16-5.
It’s the Gladiators’ 15th regional title and second in three years, while the Bulldogs lost the region final for the second straight year. Glenelg will face Hereford, last year’s 2A state finalists and winners of the North region, in a state semifinal game at Northeast-AA High School on Friday or Saturday.
“We knew we were going to get our opportunities,” Gladiators coach Josh Hatmaker said. “Mason Davis at the ‘x’ gave us possession and played make-it take-it for the first seven goals or so, so that was a big deal. ... As soon as we started shooting the scout, things starting falling.”
Hatmaker reflects on the losing skid now in a different manner. It allowed them a chance to look at themselves deeper and “really fix some things that needed to be fixed.”
“That’s huge and it’s paying dividends now, and when you do that and have kids put their egos aside it makes you a whole hell of a lot better.”
The Gladiators (11-6) were dominant from the first whistle when Davis won the opening faceoff cleanly and set up a tic-tac-toe goal for James Buch (game-high four goals) just eight seconds into the game. By the end of the first quarter, they had scored six unanswered goals and fired 22 shots toward Southern-AA goalie Griffin Tucker. The Bulldogs (6-11) had just four.
Having a six-goal lead after one quarter “makes you feel a little better,” Hatmaker said.
“You get a little nervous because we don’t see them very often. We watch them on film and we know who they played, but they have some really talented kids and those are the ones you want to try to bottle up. I thought their best two kids on offense didn’t touch the ball for at least the first 10 minutes of the ball game, and that was the plan.”
The onslaught continued in the second frame, as Glenelg scored nearly every other minute. Five of its six goals in the quarter were assisted, including each of Justin Silk’s three tallies, and it held a 12-0 lead with 2 minutes, 39 seconds still to play in the first half. The first of three goals for Tucker Fanzo got Southern-AA on the board in the last minute of the half.
“Their guy did a great job at the faceoff ‘x’ and they move the ball really well,” Bulldogs coach Brendan Brace. “I think if we had gotten some of those 50-50 ground balls in the beginning of the game and got some offensive possessions and maybe buried some shots early it might have been different, but they did a great job offensively, defensively and at the faceoff ‘x’. They’re a great team.”
The Gladiators scored early in the third quarter to start the running clock and eventually ballooned their lead to 15-1 after three stanzas. Southern-AA scored four of the last five goals against Glenelg’s second and third units.
Buch, Silk, Eric Gruber and Kevin Doughty scored multiple goals and Tyler Reiff, Kyle Dry, Cole Iannarino, Michael Doughty and Griffin Doyle each scored once. That consistent scoring throughout the roster has been a strength all season for the Gladiators.
They will need that scoring depth against the Bulls in the next round.
“They’re going to be well-coached, they’re going to be talented and they’re going to be tough,” Hatmaker said. “They haven’t seen us and we haven’t seen them in a couple years. It’ll be fun.”
Glenelg (11-6) — 16, Southern-AA (6-11) — 5
2A South region championship
Goals: G — James Buch 4, Justin Silk 3, Eric Gruber 2, Kevin Doughty 2, Tyler Reiff 1, Kyle Dry 1, Cole Iannarino 1, Michael Doughty 1, Griffin Doyle 1; S — Tucker Fanzo 3, Colin Phipps 2
Assists: G — K. Doughty 4, M. Doughty 3, Ryan Hopkins 1, Silk 1, Buch 1; S — Phipps 1
Saves: G — John Kennedy 6, Charlie Wendel 1; S — Griffin Tucker 13
Halftime: 12-1, Glenelg
J.M. Bennett — 14, Mt. Hebron (6-11) — 13 (OT)
3A East region championship
Goals: JMB — Alex Sewell 6, Luke Nestor 3, Braden Glushakow 2, Cole Nestor 2, Leighton Marsh 1; MH — Garrett Snyder 4, Mateo Brown 3, Cameron Stockenberg 2, Brendan Demek 2, Gavin Fleck 1, Danny Herlihy 1
Assists: JMB — L. Nestor 2, C. Nestor 2, Sewell 1; MH — Stockenberg 3, Snyder 1, Brown 1, Bryce Kampert 1
Saves: JMB — Cayden Adkins 10, MH — Cody Stockenberg 12
Halftime: 10-8, J.M. Bennett
Howard (12-5) — 6, Urbana (17-1) — 5
4A North region championship
Goals: Ho — Nathan Boone 2, Colin Hunter 1, Ethan Mitchell 1, Jeff Bruner 1
Assists: Ho — Will Drnach 2, Mitchell 1, Aiden Larsen 1
Saves: Ho — Matt Hubbard 22
Halftime: 3-2, Urbana