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McDonogh earns MIAA A boys lacrosse final berth, beating Boys' Latin, 11-8

The path to the title game was different for defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference lacrosse champion McDonogh this season.

No perfect run through league play like last season. No opening-round bye in the playoffs. And certainly no easy time against Monday's semifinal opponent Boys' Latin.

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It was fitting that the No. 2 Eagles were in the midst of killing a second straight one-minute penalty early in the fourth quarter, clinging to a one-goal advantage when the game's biggest swing came.

All-Metro midfielder BJ Farrare broke up a pass deep in the defensive end, collected the ground ball and sprinted the length of the field. He then found Jack Sweeney, who scored the game's most important goal to give the Eagles an 11-8 win over No. 3 Boys' Latin before an announced 2,275 at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.

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Liam Powderly and Jack Parr led the Eagles's balanced attack, each finishing with two goals and two assists as the Eagles improved to 16-3 — avenging one of two league losses against the Lakers, who beat them, 10-9, in overtime April 28.

McDonogh (17-3) will have a chance to avenge its other league loss Thursday when it meets No. 1 Calvert Hall — a 12-8 winner over No. 5 Loyola Blakefield in the other semifnal — in the championship game, set for 7:30 p.m. at Homewood Field. On April 21, Calvert Hall beat the Eagles, 11-9. Boys' Latin, which got a three-goal, one assist effort from Matt Brandau, finished 13-6.

“Every season tells a different story and I give our guys a lot of credit,” McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner said. “I think there were a lot of expectations on our team. We lose one to Culver [Academy in Indiana], then we lose to Calvert Hall and Boys’ Latin during the regular season and I think people were looking at us like: ‘What’s wrong with McDonogh?’ Our guys continued to work really hard and do all the little things right and that made a big difference for us.”

One such little thing was the extra time Farrare said the team put into practice this week working on their man-down situations. The Eagles’ fourth-quarter work shorthanded was the difference. Not only did they kill off 2:30 worth of penalties, but the unit changed the game with Farrare finding Sweeney.

“It was huge. It was really huge for momentum and got us a goal in a critical situation,” said Farrare, who finished with one goal and two assists. “This week, we talked about man-down because we knew we were going to have to go there sometimes. We hadn’t been good earlier in the season, so we decided to hone in and really work hard on it.”

In a rematch of last year's title game — an 8-5 McDonogh win — Monday's semifinal was a game of runs and the Eagles had bigger and more timely ones. With the game tied at 6 early in the third quarter, Powderly, Jack Parr and Farrare scored to give them a 9-6 advantage before the Lakers had their turn.

After consecutive goals from Matt Brandau cut the deficit to 9-8 with 10:49 to play, the Lakers had two man-advantage chances but couldn't break through. On the second one, Farrare and Sweeney connected for the last game-changing turn. Sweeney, Jack Simmons and Griffin Catlett all scored twice and goalie Evan Long made 11 saves.

Koby Rusell provided the Lakers with the game's first run with an all-out goal in the early going. Parked in front, he was heavily checked and lost the ball, but won the ground ball and was quick to finish to make it 1-1 with 9:47 to play in the first quarter.

It was the first of a three-goal run for the Lakes, who got goals from Konner Caplin (two goals) and Brendan Grimes for the two-goal lead after one quarter.

The Eagles weren't fazed, answering with consecutive second-quarter goals from Sweeney, Simmons, Powderly and Parr for a 5-3 advantage with 4:59 left in the half. In need of a goal to end McDonogh's run, the Lakers got one from Caplin, but the Eagles reclaimed the two-goal lead with Catlett scoring his second of the game with 20 seconds left in the half for a 6-4 lead at the break.

Now, McDonogh has a chance to avenge its other league loss against Calvert Hall – which is in the same position the Eagles were in last year with a perfect league mark.

"Losing two games in the conference was hard -- we're not really used to it," Farrare said, "But we fought through it and it's hard to beat us twice, so let's go."

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glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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Goals: M – Catlett 2, Sweeney 2, Simmons 2, Powderly 2, Parr 2, Farrare;

BL – Russell, Caplin 2, Grimes, M. Brandau 3, Ey.

Assists: M – Farrare 2, Mitchell, Powderly 3, Parr;

BL – Shilling, M. Brandau.

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Saves: M – Long 11;

BL – C. Brandau 7

Half: M, 6-4


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