Brown’s six-goal explosion and stingy defense help McDonogh secure first A Conference lax win of 2021
by Nelson Coffin
While not everything is back to pre-pandemic status, just having the return of MIAA A Conference lacrosse on a Tuesday afternoon was a good start toward returning to a certain sense of normalcy.
Players from both teams — McDonogh School and Mount St. Joseph — appeared to be enjoying the moment at John McDonogh Stadium in Owings Mills, although, obviously, the Eagles had a much better time of it by powering their way to a 16-3 opening day triumph.
Hugh Brown was especially ecstatic, and for good reason.
The junior midfielder, committed to Loyola University, started his season with a bang by scoring a game-high six goals for McDonogh.
“I can’t put into words how excited we were to play today,” he said. “And it showed.”
He is only one of a slew of weapons that McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner has at his disposal.
The Eagles can bludgeon most defenses with firepower few of their rivals will be able to match, starting with an attack unit that includes senior lefty Jack Horrigan, sophomore McCabe Millon and freshman Luke Miller.
Brown’s buddies on the midfield, seniors Dante Trader and Jack Dudas, and juniors Lucas Baehr and Matt McMillan can certainly sling it as well.
“We’re a very athletic team and we like to score on transition,” Brown said. “But when we don’t have transition ‘O,’ coach (Hilgartner) has us (in a good offense). We executed really well.”
Having 10 assists in the game attests to the validity of Brown’s statement.
The Gaels scored first on a nifty move around the crease by senior attackman Tyler Matthiesen before the Eagles rattled off six straight goals — two each by Brown and Horrigan and single tallies by Millon and Miller — over the next 17 minutes to go up, 6-1.
After sophomore Cory Myers responded for St. Joe, Trader and Brown ripped in shots past promising junior goalie Tommy Will (14 saves) to give the Eagles an 8-2 halftime bulge.
“Tommy is learning a lot,” Mount St. Joe coach Tyler Reid said. “He makes a lot of the saves he’s expected to make and then he makes the ones that will keep us in games. We’re relying on him to lead the defensive charge as he becomes more familiar with our defense.”
Horrigan and Brown opened the second half with goals before Myers struck again for the Gaels’ final goal with just under five minutes remaining in the third period.
Brown and Baehr closed out the quarter with goals and Trader netted his second to open the final frame to make it, 13-3, with 11 minutes remaining.
Meanwhile, McDonogh’s defense swarmed would-be St. Joe shooters to keep the pressure off junior Eagle goalies Anthony Wilson (5 saves) and Blake Hammerrschlag (2 saves).
Moreover, the Eagles’ man-down unit thwarted all three of the Gaels’ extra-man opportunities while the defense held the visitors scoreless for the final 20 minutes.
“Our defense created a lot of turnovers,” Hilgartner said. “And we played really good off-ball defense.”
The coach alluded to the lack of game experience leading into the game.
“Usually by this time we would have played five or six games,” he said. “So there was some sloppy play, like short-hopped passes, but that’s to be expected for the first game. Overall, we did a lot of good things today.”
Pictured above: McDonogh junior midfielder Hugh Brown maneuvers away from Mount St. Joseph senior defenseman Garrett Gmeiner in the MIAA A Conference lacrosse opener for both schools Tuesday afternoon in Owings Mills.
MCDONOGH SCHOOL 16, MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 3
MSJ 1 1 1 0 — 3
McD 3 5 4 4 — 16
Goals: MSJ-Myers 2, Matthiesen; McD-Brown 6, Horrigan 4, Trader 2, Baehr 2, Millon, Miller.
Assists: McD– Miller 4, Dudas 3, Trader 2, Firlie.
Saves: MSJ-Wilk 10; McD-Wilson 5, Hammerschlager 2.