La Plata lacrosse teams fall in SMAC fi­nals

Pa­tri­ots score 12 first-half goals to claim eighth-straight SMAC boys lax crown

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

The names change, but the re­sults stay the same for North­ern.

Se­nior cap­tain Colton Dick scored a game-high four goals and ju­niors Ma­son Chaney and Bran­don Sul­hoff notched three goals apiece as the Pa­tri­ots over­whelmed the visiting La Plata War­riors, 17-2, to cap­ture their eighth straight South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship on Mon­day evening in Owings.

“I feel like a lot of guys sup­ported me to­day. We were mov­ing the ball and shar­ing it a lot, I just found space in tran­si­tion and di­aled in on my fin­ishes,” Dick said.

“We’ve won eight SMAC ti­tles straight, which is pretty cool,” Chaney said, who had two as­sists in the game. “I was just mainly try­ing to get open and the back­side and find peo­ple cut­ting in for the easy goal.”

North­ern (13-2 over­all), which ended the reg­u­lar sea­son last Wed­nes­day with its 104th con­sec­u­tive SMAC win, that a 20-1 rout of North Point, added yet an­other con­fer­ence ti­tle to its program ré­sumé.

“Ev­ery­one talked about last year’s team and how we had a lot of strong play­ers. Peo­ple didn’t think we were go­ing to be quite that good this year,” North­ern head coach Joe Casalino said. “But we rec­og­nized early on in the sea­son that we could be real spe­cial and guys worked hard ev­ery­day to keep im­prov­ing and try to reach their full po­ten­tial. As long as we keep do­ing that we will be tough to beat.”

With nifty pass­ing, speed and ar­ray of scor­ers, North­ern started fast and was in com­plete con­trol, as ju­nior Abe Hub­bard scored the first goal of the game one minute in. From there, the Pa­tri­ots took a 3-0 lead be­fore Ben Le­bar­ron got

La Plata on the board with 2 min­utes 23 sec­onds left in the first quar­ter.

North­ern pushed the lead to 5-1 and La Plata an­swered right back with its sec­ond tally of the game by Cody Get­gen to end the quar­ter.

“North­ern just out-hus­tled us. They are a great team,” said La Plata head coach Kris Bayer, whose team fell to 11-4 on the sea­son. “I think if we played con­sis­tently and hus­tled to ground­balls, we could com­pete at the very least. But to­day they were just the bet­ter team by far.”

That would be the clos­est La Plata got as North­ern be­gan to wear down the War­riors, scor­ing seven straight goals to take a com­mand­ing 12-2 half­time lead. The Pa­tri­ots forced a run­ning clock as they scored four goals in the third quar­ter.

At the end of the third, fresh­man Matt Hol­land broke Vin­cent Smiroldo’s sin­gle-sea­son as­sist record, notch­ing his 38th of the sea­son on a dish to se­nior Alex DiGiro­lamo (2 goals).

Hol­land got No. 39 mid­way in the fourth on a goal by ju­nior Hunter Hux­oll’s to cap off the game’s scor­ing.

North­ern showed its po­tent ball move­ment, col­lect­ing 15 as­sists on its 17 goals scored.

“I think we were able to get our tran­si­tion go­ing and we pushed the pace a lit­tle bit harder than we did the first time with them,” said Casalino, re­fer­ring to a 13-6 win over La Plata on March 29. “That made it very dif­fi­cult for them to get or­ga­nized de­fen­sively and it open up some holes for us to score some goals. We have some fin­ish­ers around the cage and when we get mov­ing like that it is hard to keep us off the board.”

The Pa­tri­ots now have their sights set on on get­ting sim­i­lar re­sults in the post­sea­son. Last sea­son, the Pa­tri­ots won the program’s first re­gional cham­pi­onship since 2005. The team lost to even­tual Class 3A-2A state cham­pi­onship Linganore of Fred­er­ick County in the state semi­fi­nals and wants to im­prove upon that fin­ish.

“You want to win SMAC, a re­gion ti­tle and give your­self a chance at the state level,” Casalino said. “That is the po­si­tion we want to be in and now we have a cou­ple days un­til the play­offs.”

North­ern, the No. 1 seed in the 3A-2A East Re­gion Sec­tion II play­offs, starts its jour­ney Fri­day in the sec­tion semi­fi­nals against the win­ner of to­day’s sec­tion quar­ter­fi­nal matchup that has fifth-seeded Thomas Stone at fourth-seeded Calvert. The time of to­day’s con­test was not known at press time.

La Plata is the sec­ond seed in the bracket and will start Fri­day in the sec­tion semi­fi­nals against ei­ther sixth-seeded St. Charles or third-seeded Hunt­ing­town, a sec­tion quar­ter­fi­nal con­test sched­uled for 4:30 p.m. to­day at North­ern as Hunt­ing­town High School is host­ing the SMAC track and field cham­pi­onships.

STAFF PHOTO BY AJ MA­SON

La Plata’s Pre­ston Pipes, left, looks to pass as he is de­fended by Jack Pur­cell of North­ern in Mon­day’s SMAC boys lacrosse cham­pi­onship game. The Pa­tri­ots won 17-2.

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