The Washington Post

Patriots fall short in their bid for repeat



owings mills, md. — The third-period goals came one after the other. First to convert was Abe Hubbard, Northern’s rock in its semifinal win that put it in Thursday night’s Maryland 3A boys’ state lacrosse championsh­ip. Then it was attacker Brandon Sulhoff, followed by midfielder Mark Crawford and Hubbard again.

The barrage trimmed what had been a five-goal Westminste­r lead to one. But the momentum didn’t last, and the Owls held off the push for a 12-8 win at Stevenson University for their first title since 2013.

“We got behind pretty early and had to fight real hard against a really hard team to get back in the game,” Northern Coach Joe Casalino said. “It says a lot about the heart and the effort at how much these guys care for their team to fight back like that.”

Northern’s loss came a year after the Patriots became the first team in the history of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference — boys or girls — to win a MPSSAA lacrosse championsh­ip. Last year, the Patriots beat Glenelg, 5-4, in the 3A/2A state championsh­ip game.

“I’ve gotten so much better with these guys,” said Sulhoff, who transferre­d to Northern his sophomore year. “I learned everything from them, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done with me.”

Northern (18-2) returned 25 players from its title-winning squad and beat Centennial, 12-11, in the state semifinal to get a shot at another championsh­ip.

The Patriots were led by Hubbard’s six goals.

Westminste­r (18-1) got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 4-1 lead after the end of the first period. Sulhoff scored the Patriots’ lone first-quarter goal with five seconds remaining. The Owls outshot the Patriots in the first quarter 11-5 and got two goals from senior attack Patrick Stewart.

The lead was 7-2 at halftime before the Patriots rallied.

Northern rattled off four thirdquart­er goals to cut the Westminste­r lead to one, but the Owls stormed back, taking a 9-7 lead into the final quarter before sealing it with three goals in the fourth period.

“There are people who don’t know where Calvert County is in Maryland,” Casalino said. “There are people who don’t know where Northern High School is. . . . For a very long time these guys have put together a great lacrosse program that is one of the top in the state, and I’m so proud of them.”

“It says a lot about the heart and the effort at how much these guys care for their team to fight back like that.” Joe Casalino, Northern coach, on his team’s push for a comeback

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