For the Boys’ Latin lacrosse team, the halftime message from coach Brian Farrell in Tuesday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal against undefeated McDonogh was simple: Don’t let it happen again.
In the regular-season meeting, the Lakers had a two-goal halftime lead on the Eagles, only to surrender the first eight goals of the third quarter in an eventual defeat.
Not this time.
On Tuesday, Boys’ Latin protected the advantage with confidence and togetherness. Senior captain Ben Smith produced a two-goal, four-assist performance, Dominic Pietramala added five goals and goalie Cardin Stoller made 10 stops.
The Eagles, who came to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis with 12 wins in as many games, would fight to the end, but the Lakers owned the final 51 seconds to close out a 13-12 win.
Avenging a 15-8 loss to the Eagles on April 6, Boys’ Latin (8-4) advances to Friday’s championship game against Archbishop Spalding -- a 9-8 winner against Calvert Hall in Tuesday’s other semifinal -- with the time set for 7:30 p.m. in Annapolis. The Lakers take a surge of confidence into the final after knocking off the team nobody else had beaten.
“Just heart – our team is all about heart. We might not be the most talented group on the field, but this group fights every time we go out,” Smith said.
Leading 7-5 at the half, Smith provided the all-important first goal of the third quarter with Pietramala following for a 9-5 advantage that removed any notion of a repeat performance.
McDonogh senior Jack Dudas, who was brilliant throughout the game and finished with five goals, got the Eagles within one three times in the second half.
With 51 seconds left in the game, he scored while on the ground to give McDonogh a chance.
But Lakers faceoff specialist Mac Moreland won possession and Pietramala helped run out the remaining time. Sticks immediately flew into the air in celebration from the Lakers’ side.
“It was a two-goal game at half the first time we played them, and I don’t think we answered the bell too well when they came back and got us,” Farrell said.
“This [win] goes to our seniors understanding, ‘OK, things didn’t go that well that time, so how can we respond and be different the next time?’ So again, I give a lot of credit to our leaders.”
A special season ends on a disappointing note for McDonogh, which had a scare in claiming an 8-6 quarterfinal win over St. Paul’s on Saturday that it hoped would serve as a wake-up call. The Eagles slowly left the field distraught after setting out to repeat their 2016 season, when they finished undefeated in league play.
“I don’t know. We did everything we could. We prepared the whole year, we’ve been clicking, but they just played better today. Sometimes that’s how it goes,” Dudas said.
Tuesday’s first half was nearly identical to the regular-season meeting.
The first quarter was mostly all Eagles as they got goals from McCabe Millon, Malachi Jones and Dudas for a 3-0 lead with 4:02 to play.
The Lakers finally got on the board with 1:07 left and it was their senior captains that made it happen — Garrett Glatz finishing on a feed from Smith.
The Eagles were able to get that goal back quickly and in dramatic fashion with Jack Horrigan scoring on an assist from Millon with five seconds left for a 4-1 lead going into the second quarter.
McDonogh couldn’t build on that momentum as the Lakers got a goal from Gavin McClernan in the opening minute of the second quarter and proceeded to dominate the rest of the half.
Boys’ Latin enjoyed two three-goal runs to outscore the Lakers 6-1 in the quarter, with McLernan and Pietramala each scoring twice to help build a 7-5 halftime advantage.
This time, it was the Lakers’ turn, and now it’s on to Friday’s title game.
“It’s another opportunity for us to play,” Smith said. “Coach always talks about being a team and being together and it’s two more days, three days for us to be together.”
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Goals: BL – Glatz 2, McClernan 2, Pietramala 4, Schell, Smith 2, Spilman, Pacheco; M – Millon 2, Jones, Dudas 5, Horrigan 2, Trader Jr. 2. Assists: BL – Smith 4, Pietramala, Moreland; M – Trader Jr., 2, Millon 2. Saves: BL – Stoller 10; M – Wilson 4. Half: BL, 7-5