Defending champ Baltimore Highlight Boys off to a fast start in Under Armour Underclass lacrosse games; Highlight Girls, Command Boys and Girls also have perfect days in pool play

by Nelson Coffin

Measuring by goal differential, there’s little doubt that the Baltimore boys squad is the hottest team in the Highlight Division — for rising high school juniors and seniors — at the Under Armour Underclass Lacrosse games.

On the first day of pool play Friday at Meadowood Park, the defending champs performed in dominating fashion by shutting out CONNY (Connecticut/New York), 8-0, in the morning game before topping New Jersey, 10-4, in the afternoon contest under a scorching sun.

The Baltimoreans will finish pool play on Saturday against the South (8:30 a.m.) and the Southwest (12:15 p.m.).

After whitewashing CONNY, coach Shawn Burke’s club went almost the entire first half without surrendering a goal to New Jersey while scoring seven goals of their own to take a 7-1 halftime advantage and cruising from there.

Five different rising seniors — Josh Webber (Calvert Hall), Tyler Dunn (Calvert Hall), Casey Doyle (Gilman), Henry Tolker (Loyola Blakefield) and Gabe Souza (St. Mary’s) — rippled the net for Baltimore as it built a 5-0 cushion in the first quarter.

Doyle and Sam King (Gilman) kept the run going before New Jersey finally countered on a goal by CJ Kirst on a feed from Delbarton teammate Christopher Nichols.

Baltimore assists went to Doyle and Cole Herbert (Calvert Hall), who added a helper on a goal by Dane Swanson (McDonogh) to open the second half.

Rising senior short-stick middle Kainoa Sasaki (Calvert Hall) converted a long pass from rising senior defenseman Sam Olexo (Archbishop Spalding) for Baltimore’s ninth goal before rising junior midfielder Jack Dudas (McDonogh) closed the scoring for the locals on a feed from Doyle.

It took a red-hot goalie, Evan Barr (9 saves), to limit Baltimore to three scores in the second half.

Rising seniors Jackson Marshall (Calvert Hall) and Kevin Ellington (Loyola) combined for eight saves for Baltimore

Dunn and rising senior Will Coletti (Linganore) shared face-off duties and were a successful in blunting any hope New Jersey had of making a comeback.

Dunn said that it’s “hard to keep your head straight sometimes” in the intense heat, but he and Coletti both praised the help they received from teammates while taking the draws.

“We have awesome wing guys,” said Coletti, who also pointed to coaching he received from Baltimore coaches.

Rising seniors Tyler Dunn (Calvert Hall), left, and Will Coletti (Linganore) were hot at the face-off ‘x’ on Friday against New Jersey, giving their Baltimore teammates ample possessions to jump out to a 7-0 lead in the 10-4 triumph over New Jersey.

Coletti said that he played for the D.C. team that advanced to the Highlight championship game last year before falling to Baltimore.

“I didn’t make the Baltimore team last year, so I went out for Washington,” he said. “Playing with all these MIAA guys this year has been fun. We have great chemistry.”

He must have been impressive in tryouts, considering that 300 players came out for a team that carries just 24 players.

Burke, who coached Towson High to a Class 3A state semifinal this spring, said that how the team is selected makes a big difference.

“The key is to pick kids who can take on certain roles,” he said, alluding to the versatile Sasaki and game MVP Alex Wicks (St. Mary’s).

So far, at least, the team is meshing well and hopes to continue to do so on Saturday and Sunday if the Baltimoreans advance to the playoff round.

The younger Baltimore boys team playing in the Command Division built on its opening round victory over D.C. on Thursday by beating New England, 12-3, and New Jersey, 12-8, on Friday.

They will take on the Southwest on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

The Baltimore Highlight girls were also victorious on Friday, topping CONNY, 17-7, and Southwest, 16-4.

They will take on Upstate New York (8:30 a.m.) and Philadelphia (2:45 p.m.) Saturday.

The Baltimore Command girls bounced back from a trouncing by CONNY on Thursday to pick up victories over Southwest, 19-4, and Upstate New York, 18-5, on Friday.

Their final pool-play encounter will be against Philadelphia (1:30 p.m.) Saturday afternoon.

Pictured above: Rising senior defenseman Will Tominovich (St. Mary’s) clears the ball against New Jersey for the Baltimore Highlight boys in their 10-4 victory over New Jersey on Friday afternoon at Meadowood Park in the Under Armour Underclass Games.