St. Mary’s coach Victor Lilly estimated 900 Saints students, fans and alumni packed Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for Tuesday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference boys lacrosse semifinals. At least, that’s how many fan shirts were claimed. Around 1,000 tailgated in the parking lot for the team from a school of around 220 boys.
The Saints took another vital step beating Calvert Hall, 12-9, in the semifinal. Now, as St. Mary’s takes on McDonogh on Friday at 7:30 for a chance to hoist the MIAA A trophy for the first time since 2015, the self-proclaimed dark horses aren’t just doing it for themselves. They’re doing it, Lilly said, for all those people rooting for the little parochial school nestled on Duke of Gloucester Street.
“It was special,” Lilly said. “We’ll see if we can win one [Friday] night.”
Two Anne Arundel County teams will have the opportunity to show that the best lacrosse has crossed county lines on Friday. Indian Creek will take on Archbishop Curley in the B Conference contest at 5 p.m., followed by St. Mary’s and McDonogh.
While Lilly is partial to high school campuses, he recognizes the significance of possibly achieving glory on hallowed ground.
“The Naval Academy is a special, sacred place. Many people have given their lives and displayed on that field for their country,” Lilly said. “It’s an honor to play there. But for me, it’s an honor to compete. That what it’s all about.”
For a team that rose to the top spot in the nation and suffered some teaching moments later in the season, the Saints didn’t have much still to experience before the semifinal. But there was one thing.
“The deafening sound of playing in that stadium,” Lilly said. “You can’t hear your players. It really lets your leaders on the field control so much more of the game because they can’t hear you.”
As for those leaders, Lilly tipped the cap to his attacks Nick Golini (40 goals and 23 assists), Will Hopkins (37 goals and 13 assists) and Jake Adams, who spearheaded his offense with four goals and an assist in the semifinal and has 37 goals and eight assists on the season.
He also credited faceoff specialists Teddy Androus and Justin Webber, who harbor a 56.7% and 53.1% mark in the circle, respectively, as well as three defensemen — Riley Reece, Dillon Torggler and Sam Palmisano, all of whom Lilly said have been “lights out” all spring.
Then there’s long-stick midfielder George Acton, a catalyst in winning 50-50 balls with 61 ground balls and 33 caused turnovers.
“He’s been phenomenal all year,” Lilly said. “He’s done his job.”
The St. Mary’s coach does believe there are improvements yet to be made, like among his short-stick midfielders. Lilly also has faith in goalkeeper Zack Overend, who allowed nine goals on Tuesday, and that he’ll show his best game on Friday night.
Regardless of the result — and believe it, St. Mary’s goal has always been that title — the team has accomplished a less tangible goal: unity. In the stands Tuesday were many junior varsity players, eyeing their potential for the 2023 season.
“Close to 100 young men play lacrosse for a small parochial school that has 220 boys. It’s about a program, not a team,” Lilly said.