Down a goal, down a man and without the ball in the final seconds of the Class 3A boys lacrosse state championship game Friday against Frederick power Urbana, the Towson Generals were desperate to make one final play.
Senior defenseman Joe Murray secured a takeaway in the defensive end with 11 seconds left and moved the ball forward for junior Will Derbyshire to get off one final shot just before the clock expired.
While the hurried shot sprayed a bit wide, the effort spoke admirably to the Generals’ character in a 7-6 loss to the Hawks at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
“We played our hearts out and that’s everything I can ask from everybody,” said Towson senior captain Evan Jones, who led the Generals with three goals and two assists. “Everyone gave 100% effort, every day, every practice, every game — that’s all we can ask for.
“Once they were up one, I knew we weren’t going to quit, we’d stay with it. This team is strong. If we’re down a goal, we’re not going to give up, and we kept going until the end and played our hearts out.”
The Hawks came into the game with an 11-0 record, averaging 17 goals per game and boasting five seniors that are set to play Division I lacrosse next year.
The Generals, winning possession and slowing the pace, led 3-1 at half and 4-2 when Will Kennedy scored his third goal with 6:16 to play in the third quarter.
In a game filled with big saves — Towson’s Mike Giordani and Urbana’s Cullen McKay both finished with nine — and some timely goals, neither team was able to sustain any significant momentum or build a lead bigger than two goals.
With the game tied at 6 midway through the fourth quarter, Giordani made two brilliant saves. McKay countered with one before Urbana’s Dylan Lange took a feed from Jason Kolar and scored with 3:35 to play. McKay turned away a shot from Jones and Mason Cloyd before the Hawks claimed possession with 1:44 to play.
They kept it until Murray’s late takeaway, and after the anxious final seconds, celebrated the program’s first state championship.
As the fifth seed, Towson was able to knock off two undefeated teams — Blake in the quarterfinals and top-seed C. Milton Wright in Wednesday’s semifinals. In a valiant bid to knock off a third straight undefeated opponent to bring home the program’s fifth championship and first since 1997, the Generals fell just short.
“It was a heck of a run,” Towson coach Rick Brocato said. “We’re really grateful to have the time together and to be able to do what we did together. I think both teams put on a good show for the Class 3A title today.”
Brocato, who returned to his alma mater after a lengthy and successful stint coaching at St. Paul’s, was proud that his Generals were able to limit the Hawks to one first-half goal. He wasn’t surprised that his team fully believed to the last second of the season, either.
“It’s says a lot about the character of our group of kids,” he said. “[Former Johns Hopkins] Coach [Dave] Pietramala told me years ago … you’re only as good as your seniors. Those 17 seniors have as much character as any kids I’ve ever coached, and I think they showed it at the very end. We’ve seen Joe Murray do that every day in practice, pick off balls like that. So I think the guys were like ‘Hey, we can still do this.’ It gave them the confidence and opportunity that we could do this and we almost tied it up.”
Giordani, who was part of the program since his freshman year, had a difficult time coming to the realization that this was his final game as a General.
“It’s kind of like losing your family after a loss like that knowing there is no next year, there’s no next practice, there’s no next game. I love this team,” he said. “We’d never seen an offense like that. They were bigger than us, shiftier than us. They gave our defense a run for our money and I’m proud of our guys. Our defense held them to one goal in a half. They just put the ball in the goal more times than us, but I’m proud of my guys and the way we fought.”
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Goals: T – Jones 3, Kennedy 3; U – McMahon 3, Jas. Jozwiak 2, Jac. Jozwiak, Lange Assists: T – Jones 2, Derbyshire 2; U – Jac. Jozwiak 2, E. Kolar, J. Kolar Saves: T – Gioradni 9; U – McKay 9 Half: T, 3-1