Jake Krieger and Jude BrownAt the half of Thursday’s MIAA B Conference lacrosse championship game, at Johns Hopkins Homewood Field, John Carroll School, winner of 25 straight games against MIAA B Conference opponents and the last two league titles, was staring an epic upset square in the face.

Second-seeded Gerstell Academy, playing in its first league final and a program which has never defeated the Patriots, frustrated John Carroll’s high-powered offensive attack and played with tremendous confidence in building a 7-3 halftime lead.

John Carroll, however, kept its composure and found its stride in the third quarter as the 14th-ranked Patriots rallied for a 16-11 victory to capture their three-peat.

Juniors Jake Krieger and Jude Brown each scored twice in the third quarter as John Carroll battled back to tie the game three times before finally taking an 11-10 lead, it’s first advantage of the game, with eight seconds to play in the third on an unassisted goal by Luke Ensor. The Patriots never looked back.

“We just had to relax and do what we do good,” said Krieger, who had a game-high five goals and one assist in the contest. “We’ve been down before and you just need to come and play out.”

Despite the Patriots charge, Gerstell did not surrender the lead easily. After the first tie, Jake Higgins and Kaden Ross each scored for the Falcons to put them back on top, 9-7. Goals from Brown and Paul Poholsky got John Carroll even again, but Jake Higgins countered with his third goal of the day, to once again push the Falcons in front, 10-9. Alex Wore evened it for JC before Ensor finally put the Patriots on top.

“Not being down pretty much at all, all season, and then having to come into this game being down by six or seven, it was difficult,” said Brown, who scored a hat-trick in the contest. “But, we all got our heads screwed on straight; we came together as a team and we all decided we wanted it more than they did. We took it to them.”

Gerstell put the pressure on the Patriots in the first quarter as Higgins won all three face-offs and goalkeeper Tyler Curtis made five saves in goal to frustrate the JC attack. The Falcons then scored the first goal of the afternoon when Mike Ippolito ripped an unassisted shot for a 1-0 lead, at the 5:34 mark. Later in the quarter, CJ Kovalsky netted a feed from Seth Higgins and the Falcons took a 2-0 advantage into the first break.

Gerstell did not let up in the second quarter, outscoring John Carroll 5-3. Joey Tabak, Ross, Jake Higgins all scored in the second quarter for the Falcons and Cameron Mullinix tickled the twine twice. John Carroll looked like it might take some momentum into the half when Krieger, who finished with a game-high five goals and one assist, scored his second unassisted goal of the quarter, with just 20.1 seconds left. Gerstell, however, flipped that script when Mullinix sniped his second scored with just 4.2 seconds to play.

In addition to big games from Krieger and Brown, John Carroll got two goals each from Joey Rayman and Poholsky, as well as one goal each from Wroe, Ensor, Nick Rosaschi and Keiron Leonard.

“I couldn’t be more proud. It’s been an incredible season,” said Gerstell coach Sean Todd. “We’ve all been working very hard and it all came together. We ran out of gas at the end, but they did an incredible job, fighting to the end and never quitting.”

The Falcons are certainly a program on the rise in the MIAA and Todd looks forward to more success in the near future.

“I am super excited,” added Todd. “I’ve been coaching here since our first championship (in the C Conference) and it’s been great to watch us and it has been great to see these guys build our program up to where it is. Hopefully, this is where we’ll stay and come back every year.”

“Gerstell came out and really played well in the first half,” said John Carroll coach Brian King.  “They were well prepared and they have a really good team and are well coached.”

King has now won titles in all three seasons at John Carroll and has now ended his season with a championship in eight of the last nine years, including five state titles while at Hereford.

“I really like this group of kids because I like the way they practice,” added King. “You feel, when you put in the time and practice the right way, it is really easy to believe in the kids. I’m glad they got rewarded. It doesn’t alway work out that way, but today it did.”


MIAA C Conference lacrosse championship

at Johns Hopkins University

No. 14 John Carroll School 16, Gerstell Academy 11

Goals: Gerstell – Higgins 3, Mullinix 3, Ross 2, Ippolito, Kovalsky, Tabak; John Carroll – Kreiger 5, Brown 3, Poholsky 2, Ensor, Leonard, Rosaschi, Wroe

Assists: Gerstell – Higgins 3, Kovalsky, Mullinix, Ross, Tabak; John Carroll – Smithmyer 3, Krieger, Leonard, Maridin, Rayman, Rosaschi, Wroe

Saves: Gerstell – Curtis 14; John Carroll – Lotz 7

Gerstell 2 5 3 1 – 11

John Carroll 0 3 8 5 – 14