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High School sports

McCabe Millon, Jonathan Cool lead McDonogh boys lacrosse to 12-10 upset of Spalding in MIAA A Conference quarterfinals

Attackman McCabe Millon sparked a balanced offense. Long pole Jonathan Cool spearheaded a determined defense.

McDonogh, a massively talented team that labored through an uneven season, finally showed why it was ranked No. 1 in The Baltimore Sun preseason poll.

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Millon scored five goals and dished off three assists, while Cool played lockdown defense on Spalding star Michael Weisshaar as sixth-seeded McDonogh upset No. 3 Archbishop Spalding, 12-10, in the MIAA A Conference quarterfinals.

Midfielder Matt McMillen scored three goals and assisted another, while attackman Brendan Millon totaled two goals and an assist for McDonogh (11-6), which moves on to meet top-seeded Boys’ Latin in Tuesday’s semifinals.

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“That was an unbelievable team win. Everyone picked each other up,” McCabe Millon said. “We had a little scare at the end, but we were able to pull it out. We’re such a close-knit team, so we knew we’d get it done.”

Attackman Ryan Schrier scored three goals to lead Spalding (12-5), which outscored the visitors 5-1 to start the fourth quarter, cutting a five-goal deficit down to one. Midfielder Nick Gutierrez totaled two goals and an assist for the Cavaliers, who closed the regular season by winning four of their last five games.

“It was a high-quality high school lacrosse game with a lot of ups and downs. That’s kind of how this season has been for this team,” Spalding coach Brian Phipps said. “That’s a very, very talented team. This was probably the best game they played together all year. Unfortunately, it had to be against us.”

The elder Millon, who is committed to Duke, showed why he is ranked the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2023 by Inside Lacrosse. He repeatedly dodged from behind the cage and either scored himself or set up others.

“McCabe is a special player for sure. I think what he’s done well the last couple weeks is to get the ball out of his stick and allow other guys to be involved in the play,” McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner said. “When he does that, it makes his dodging abilities even greater.”

Millon set the tone early by beating his man from behind, then using a question mark dodge to get free for an unassisted goal. He scored again just 10 seconds later after the Eagles won the ensuing faceoff and used great ball movement to find the open man.

McMillen scored two unassisted goals off impressive dodges down the alley as McDonogh outscored Spalding 6-2 over the second and third quarters to take a commanding 9-4 lead.

While the offense was sharp, it was the defensive dominance that set the tone. Cool (Ohio State) shadowed Weisshaar, and the 2021 C. Markland Kelly Award winner was unable to dodge to freedom or get his hands free to shoot.

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Weisshaar finished with two goals but one came during an unsettled situation and the other was off an extra man opportunity. Long stick midfielder Malachi Jones (Virginia) forced several turnovers as the Eagles generally made life uncomfortable for the Cavaliers.

“It was a great team effort defensively because they run so much pick-action and motion-action that you’re going to get switched off your matchups,” Hilgartner said.

Spalding found something midway through the fourth quarter with Weisshar getting things started with the unsettled goal off a clearing situation at the 6:24 mark. Schrier followed with a wicked crank shot a minute and a half later and the Spalding sideline was suddenly energized.

Midfielder Auggie D’Ambrosi had three assists for Spalding, which came to life and scored six goals in the final frame after managing only four through three periods.

“Their defense was giving us some issues and we weren’t hitting the cage like we should have been,” Phipps said. “Our coaches made a few adjustments and we started having some success. As coaches, we’re going to kick ourselves in the butt for not making those changes earlier.”

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Brendan Millon found his older brother all alone behind the defense and McCabe Millon walked in and easily scored one-on-one with the goalie to briefly stop the run. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave Spalding a golden opportunity.

The Cavaliers scored twice during the non-releasable penalty with Gutierrez whipping a low-to-high crank shot into the top corner and Schrier finishing from inside off a nice feed from fellow attackman Race Ripley.

“I thought we played great — as well as we have all season at times. We also had some poor decision-making at times, too,” Hilgartner said. “Credit to Spalding for getting back into the game. It says a lot about their program to not quit down 9-4 going into the fourth and find a way to cut it to one.”

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McDonogh was on the brink of playoff elimination after losing 10-4 to St. Paul’s. However, the Eagles closed the regular season with blowout wins against John Carroll and Gilman to finish 6-4 in the conference.

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“We were really disappointed with our performance at St. Paul’s. We all knew as a group that we had a lot better,” McCabe Millon said. ”For the seniors, it was going to be their last ride. We didn’t want them to go out on a sour note. We got after each other in practice and were able to turn it around.”

GOALS: M - McCabe Millon 5, McMillen 3, Brendan Millon 2, Miller, Firlie. AS - Schrier 3, Coffman 2, Gutierrez 2, Weisshaar 2, Ripley.

ASSISTS: M - McCabe Millon 3, Brendon Millon 2, Marsh, McMillen, Kasten. AS - Ripley 3, D’Ambrosi 3, Roberts, Gutierrez.

SAVES: M - Wilson 9. AS - McMahon 7.


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