Three charm city squads lose Under Armour championship games to their New York rivals; Highlight boys stumble in semifinals against New Jersey
In the long and storied lacrosse rivalry between the Long Island and Baltimore lacrosse cultures, the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic underclassmen championships, on Sunday, provided a chapter the folks from the Charm City would sooner forget.
That’s because all three Baltimore squads — the Command boys and the Command and Highlight girls — went down to defeat in a clean sweep by the New Yorkers.
The other Baltimore team in the playoffs, the Highlight boys, fell, 7-6, in a semifinal to New Jersey to begin the day.
Coach Bryan Kelly (Calvert Hall) said that New Jersey’s defense was a key factor in holding his team to a tourney-low output.
“I think the loss to the West (in overtime on Saturday) really took a lot out of us,” he added. “We played that to win and I blame myself for not subbing more. We were pretty tired today and New Jersey’s defense did a great job.”
However, the Baltimore Command boys topped New England, 9-5, in their semifinal to earn a berth in the final against Long Island to give local fans a brief boost.
Rising sophomore attackman Brendan Grimes (Boys’ Latin) and rising sophomore Cole Herbert (Calvert Hall) had two goals apiece and rising sophomore attackman Billy Spilman (Gilman) and rising sophomore midfielder Ryan Lancaster (Loyola Blakefield) had one each in the early going as the Baltimoreans raced to a 6-0 lead and were never threatened thereafter.
In the championship game, though, it was Baltimore’s turn to face an early deficit as Long Island jumped ahead, 6-1.
The deep hole did not deter Baltimore, which still trailed, 9-5, before Grimes went to work by scoring twice and assisting rising sophomore longstick Jack Stuzin to cut the lead to 10-9 with four minutes left in regulation.
Rising sophomore attackman Daniel Kelly piped a shot that would have tied the game before Long Island tallied the final goal to take an 11-9 triumph.
“It says a lot about what type of team we are that we were able to come back on them like we did,” Baltimore coach Keith Gonsouland (River Hill) said. “We changed a couple of things defensively. We started to take away the top side and force them to their weak hand. And then we started to chip away (at the deficit).”
Gounsouland’s assistant, Ron Klausner, who was a standout defenseman for Towson University in the 1980s, said that the adjustments were necessary after Long Island started so quickly.
“We didn’t realize how fast they are,” he said. “They are fast and skilled, and it took us awhile to adjust.”
The Baltimore Command girls faced a similar dilemma, falling behind, 7-0, before ending the game on a 6-1 run that still left them two goals shy of sending the game to overtime.
Two goals by Izzy Marsh (McDonogh) and one each by fellow rising sophomore midfielders Alex Pirisino (St. Paul’s School for Girls) and Sophi Wrisk (Mound de Sales) started the rally effort.
A goal by Long Island’s Madison Waters (Bayport, N.Y.) interrupted the run, and was the only tally Baltimore’s suddenly stingy defense allowed over the final 39 minutes.
Trailing, 8-4, Baltimore charged ahead to strike twice more on goals by rising sophomore midfielders Shannon Smith (Roland Park Country School) and Eloise Clevenger (Marriotts Ridge) to get within a couple of goals with just under four minutes remaining in regulation.
History repeated itself for the third time in the Baltimore Highlight girls’ 14-9 loss to Long Island, spotting the New Yorkers a 7-1 lead before charging back.
Ironically, it was rising senior attacker Hannah Mardiney (Notre Dame Prep) who stirred the pot for Baltimore.
She scored Baltimore’s first goal and fed rising senior midfielder Maddie Jenner (McDonogh) for the second. Rising senior attacker Julia Hoffman (McDonogh) notched Baltimore’s third goal before Mardiney rifled in a left-handed shot to make it 7-4.
The Florida commit then converted a feed from Jenner to slice the margin to 7-5.
She finished with a team-best three goals and two assists, even though she did not make the team after tryouts.
“Nobody told me why, but I didn’t make the team,” said Mardiney, a starter on the Blazers’ IAAM A Conference finalist squad. “Then they called me up and asked me if I wanted to be on the team. I said ‘Of course I want to play. I’ve never been in an all-star game like this. It was a great experience.”
Getting cut didn’t seem to affect Mardiney, other than to give her extra motivation to excel.
“It didn’t bother me,” she said. “I didn’t lose any confidence in myself.”
Her contributions were just what Baltimore needed.
“I knew we were down and that I needed to make an impact by being a team player,” she said.
Her coach, Shelley Brezicki (Manchester Valley), noted that the team “started out a little flat,” which made Mardiney’s contributions all that more welcome.
“Hannah did a great job and so did our defense (after a slow start),” she said. “We asked them to play high pressure for a long time, and they did.”