The Towson boys lacrosse team had everything covered in Wednesday’s Class 3A state semifinal game at undefeated C. Milton Wright, starting with a game plan that asked for possession.
Senior faceoff specialist Kyle Ketterman provided the ball for most of the game, senior attackman Evan Jones paved the way offensively with a five-goal, two-assist performance while some timely work on defense led to an 11-6 win over the Mustangs in Bel Air.
After the victory, coach Rick Brocato patted his players on the back and issued one last challenge to his senior-laden senior-laden Generals with a simple question: “One more right?”
Towson will take a 9-1 mark into Friday’s state championship game against Frederick-based Urbana — a 10-5 winner over Marriotts Ridge in Wednesday’s other semifinal — with game time set for 5 p.m. at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex. The Generals will be seeking their fifth state championship and first since 1997.
“After our [quarterfinal] win on Monday, we made sure to reset, come back hard and push ourselves in practice yesterday and we’ve just had really great momentum going this whole season. It’s really great for us and I thought we just played really well as a team today,” Jones said.
The Mustangs (13-1) came into the game averaging 15 goals per win and the Generals were able to effectively slow them with faceoff wins (Ketterman won 13 of 19) and extended, controlled possession.
They took a 3-1 lead after the first quarter and never trailed in the game. When the Mustangs tied the game at 4 on a goal by Blane Dall with 5:47 left in the first half, the Generals responded with a big play from senior goalie Mike Giordani.
A Generals turnover at midfield led to a fast-break opportunity for the Mustangs and Giordani left his crease to intercept a pass across right in front. The Generals converted at the other end — Jones scoring off a feed from Mason Cloyd with 1:57 to play in the half for a 5-4 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Giordani (eight saves) came up with two back-to-back stops to help protect a 6-5 lead and then consecutive goals by Will Derbyshire (two goals, one assist) ad Nate Hochrein (two goals, one assist) pushed the advantage to 9-6 going into the fourth quarter.
The Generals defense — led by senior captain Joe Murray — didn’t permit any shots to reach Giordani on the Mustangs’ first three possessions of the fourth quarter and held the home team in check for the final 18 minutes, 38 seconds of play. Goals from Hochrein and Jones closed out the scoring.
“I thought our ball movement was great today. We had patience, looked to pass the ball quick, move it and not force things too much and I think playing more conservative today really helped us out,” Jones said.
“We’re not done yet. We have practice tomorrow and then we’re going to play our hearts out Friday and give it everything we have playing our last game as seniors.”
The Mustangs were making their fifth state tournament appearance and fell short of making their first state title game. Despite the setback, coach Andrew Gerard saw a senior-heavy group get the most out of the condensed season. Nicholas Domzalski finished with one goal and two assists, Dall had two goals and goalie John Salsbury made seven saves.
“The seniors did not lose a league game in their entire careers and that’s something to be proud of. And just to be playing this year in general with all we went through … everything and these kids managed to make this happen and I’m so proud of that,” Gerard said. “This was the first team that really tested us both ends of the field and it was just tough to step up to that kind of pressure. I thought we were an equal team, but I just thought we had a hard time responding against a team that was an equal.”
Goals: T – Jones 5, Derbyshire 2, Hochrein 2, Hughes, Cloyd; CMW – Dall 2, Domzalski, Lorence, Hatfield, Garst
Assists: T – Jones 2, Kennedy, Derbyshire, Cloyd, Hochrein; CMW – Domzalski 2, Welsh
Saves: T – Giordani 8; CMW – Salsbury 7
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Half: T, 5-4