McDonogh takes down No. 1 Calvert Hall behind second half rally; Simmons and Swanson combine for four goals (VIDEO HERE!!)

Jack Simmons (left) and Gable Braun was huge for McDonogh School boys’ lacrosse Tuesday. Simmons scored the game-winning goal in the fourth quarter, and Braun won 11-of-13 face-offs as the fourth-ranked Eagles rallied for a 6-4 victory over No. 1 Calvert Hall College in a MIAA A Conference lacrosse match in Owings Mills.

by Derek Toney

In the closing seconds of the first half of Tuesday’s Calvert Hall/McDonogh School boys’ lacrosse contest, the Eagles twice had shots caromed off the post. Trailing 3-0 at halftime, it was a disappointing end to a frustrating opening half.

It turned out to be a sign of a rebirth. No. 4 McDonogh flipped the script in the second half against the top-ranked Cardinals, claiming a 6-4 decision in MIAA A Conference action in Owings Mills.

University of Virginia-bound midfielder Jack Simmons and sophomore Dane Swanson each scored two goals for McDonogh (6-4 overall, 2-1 MIAA A), and Jack Sweeney added a goal and an assist. Grant Mitchell scored twice for Calvert Hall (8-2, 2-1 MIAA A).

In a rematch of last spring’s MIAA A final, the Eagles scored twice in the final four minutes to complete a spirited comeback and avenge last May’s 12-6 loss at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Field. It was The Hall’s first loss in 14 league decisions.

Though gratifying, McDonogh knows it was just another spring Tuesday in the nation’s toughest league.

“It’s a big win, but in the MIAA A, no win is bigger than the next,” said Simmons.

Simmons, the area’s No. 1 senior according to Inside Lacrosse who was selected Tuesday to play in the Under Armor All-American game in June at Homewood Field, finished a pass from senior mate BJ Farrare with 3:35 left tin regulation to break a 4-4 tie. Senior Griffin Catlett’s unassisted rip with 2:03 remaining gave the Eagles breathing space.

With sophomore Gable Braun winning nine of 10 face-offs, McDonogh was able to get into an offensive rhythm in the second half.

“We’ve said all along if we can possess the ball, we have enough good offensive players to get good looks,” said Eagles coach Andy Hilgartner. “If we can get the ball, either by face-off or clearing, then we can have good opportunities.”

Calvert Hall, behind Mitchell’s two unassisted tallies, led 3-0 in the first quarter.

Despite being shutout, McDonogh was encouraged after the first half-closing clanks.

“We actually saw some movements, we saw we’re going to get looks,” said Hilgartner. “We went into halftime a little more upbeat.”

“Not getting a goal there was hard because we hadn’t gotten many looks the whole half,” said Simmons. “Credit to the defense, especially in that second quarter. I think we had four or five failed clears and they didn’t score.”

McDonogh finally capitalized on offense as Swanson scored unassisted with 8:59 left in the third, and Simmons converted an extra-man opportunity 42 seconds later. Swanson, a Navy commit who regarded as one of top players in the Class of 2020, bounced a hard shot past Calvert Hall net minder Liam Darragh, tying the game with 3:43 left in the third quarter.

Jack Sweeney’s extra-man tally gave McDonogh its first lead with 1:04 remaining in the third. The Eagles got off 15 shots in the period (had 10 in the first half).

Calvert Hall, held scoreless for two quarters, answered in the fourth as Jack Sawyer finished a pass from reigning VSN Player of the Year Jacob Kelly with 6:52 left in regulation. The Cardinals had possession a couple of minutes later, but lost the ball, and Farrare scooped the ball and started a break, eventually ending with Simmons’ lead goal.

The play was indicative of a difficult second half offensively for Calvert Hall Tuesday. It was the first loss in MIAA A regular season play for the Cardinals since May 2016 (at St. Paul’s School).

“They had the ball a lot and Braun was the big difference in that. When we did get the ball, we stick-worked ourselves out of it,” said Cardinals coach Bryan Kelly, whose team is No. 3 nationally by Inside Lacrosse. “A lot of careless turnovers and passes from guys who normally don’t do that especially from our midfielders.

When you don’t have the ball sometimes you tend to press. We could never get into a flow.”

Calvert Hall travels to Annapolis Friday evening to take on No. 3 St. Mary’s, which also suffered its first league loss Tuesday in an overtime decision at fifth-ranked Loyola Blakefield. No. 2 Boys’ Latin School is the lone unbeaten in the MIAA A.

The Eagles head to J. Duncan Smith Field Friday afternoon in a rematch of last year’s league semifinal.

McDonogh last won on Lake Avenue in 2011.

“We’ll celebrate tonight, but tomorrow we’ll get focused,” said Simmons. “You can’t take any games off. You have to show up because it’s the best league in the nation.”

No. 4 McDonogh School 6, No. 1 Calvert Hall College 4

Goals: Calvert Hall – Mitchell 2, Kroneberger, Sawyer; McDonogh – Simmons 2, Swanson 2, Catlett, Sweeney

Assists: Calvert Hall – J. Kelly; McDonogh – Farrare, Sweeney

Saves: Calvert Hall – Darragh 11; McDonogh – Long 6

Calvert Hall 3 0 0 1 – 4

McDonogh 0 0 4 2 – 6