McDonogh stays unbeaten, claims first in MIAA A lacrosse with 13-11 win; Millon records hat trick (VIDEO HERE!)

McDonogh’s Jack Horrigan works around Spalding defender Jackson Roberts before scoring a goal in the second quarter of Friday’s MIAA A Conference lacrosse match. The Eagles remained undefeated with a 13-11 victory in Severn.

by Derek Toney

The PA announcer at Archbishop Spalding’s Kelly Field took to the microphone as McDonogh School and Spalding’s boys lacrosse teams began leaving the field after Friday’s MIAA A Conference contest.

“We’ll see them again in the playoffs,” the announcer said.

If the teams do cross paths in the postseason, Friday’s 13-11 decision won by Eagles, was a captivating appetizer, featuring several momentum changes as well as a 35-minute weather delay, pausing the final seconds of regulation.

In the end, McDonogh remained unbeaten in the nation’s toughest high school league, and Spalding showed its surprising start is no fluke.

Sophomore attack McCabe Millon finished with a hat trick for the Eagles (4-0 overall and MIAA A), and Hugh Brown, Ben Bavar and Jack Horrigan each tallied twice. Syracuse University recruit Finn Kelly and Ryan Schrier each scored three goals for Spalding (4-1, 3-1 MIAA).

McDonogh, ranked No. 8 nationally by Inside Lacrosse, showed why it’s been a perennial area and national blueblood, slowing down the Cavaliers in the latter stages of the second half. The victory, combined with Calvert Hall’s loss at St. Mary’s Friday evening, leaves the Owings Mills school as the lone unbeaten in MIAA A play.

But it wasn’t until Millon’s empty net score with 18 seconds left that the Eagles could exhale against Spalding, which enters the national rankings for the first time in program history.

“We try not to panic because we have guys who’ve played in big games,” said McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner. “We have a small senior class, but they’re good leaders and done a great job impacting the team making sure, whether we’re down at halftime against BL (Boys’ Latin) or struggling here at Spalding, we’re not going to quit.”

We work so hard in practice, in game situations, go though a lot of stuff and we compete hard,” said Dante Trader, who will play football at Maryland in the fall and lacrosse for the Terps next spring. “So games like this, we come out here, backs against the wall and we’re not fazed by it. … Every week, we build and build and build, so we get in these pressure situations and we rise.”

After railing through BL in the second half Tuesday, McDonogh calmly flipped momentum against Spalding in the third quarter Friday. Trailing 9-7 midway in the quarter, the Eagles got unassisted tallies from Miller, Bavar, Millon and Matt McMillen to acquire an 11-9 advantage entering the fourth.

Spalding got a two-minute extra-man opportunity early in the fourth, but McDonogh forced a turnover and eliminated the penalty. The Eagles’ defense, led by Scott Hilgartner, Malachi Jones, AJ Marsh and goalie Wilson successfully navigated a man-down situation later in the fourth.

“Spalding has a great offense, they have a lot of good guys, so especially when they were man up a lot it was huge for our defense to get a couple man down stops,” said Scott Hilgartner, who’s headed to Brown in the fall.

Despite five straight McDonogh unassisted scores, the last from Trader with four minutes remaining in regulation, the Cavaliers didn’t relent. Race Ripley and Kelly scored (both unassisted), bringing the Cavaliers to 12-11 with 42.7 seconds left in regulation.

Spalding won the ensuing face-off, but Jones, a Virginia recruit, knocked the ball away from Blake Malamphy. McDonogh got possession after a scramble, then referees stopped the game with 27 seconds left for lightning near the stadium.

Millón capped his hat trick with empty netter to finally put away the Cavaliers, who stormed into the national rankings (No. 12 USLacrosse) after defeating perennial national fixture Malvern Prep (PA). After winning at St. Paul’s School Tuesday, Spalding was poised for one of its biggest matches in recent years Friday.

Trailing 3-1, the Severn school got scores from Schrier, Kelly and Josh Tang to gain its first lead at 4-3. Down 7-5 in the final minute of half, Kelly and Schrier each recorded unassisted tallies to pull Spalding even at half.

The Cavaliers carried the momentum into the third as Ripley scored off a helper from Nicholas Gutierrez and Michael Weisshaar put in an unassisted score for a 9-7 advantage with 5:58 left in the quarter. Spalding didn’t score again until Ripley’s second tally of the match with 3:31 remaining in regulation.

Hanging around in the fourth quarter against MIAA A blueblood like McDonogh was thought to be a wish for Spalding a few years ago. Now, the Cavaliers are competing and are a legitimate entity in the nation’s toughest conference.

Dante Trader (left) had a goal and Scott Hilgartner was part of a solid fourth quarter defensive effort for McDonogh Friday. The Eagles are only unbeaten team in the MIAA A.

“Obviously proud of how our guys competed, and played and proud of what they’ve been up to the past 12 months that we’ve been kind of shut down,” said Cavaliers coach Brian Phipps. “That whole lockdown they went through, they took it upon themselves to get better, improve individually and it’s obviously showing this springtime.”

“Spalding is the real deal and we realized this coming in,” said Hilgartner. “Well coached, very disciplined and they were forced us into a lot of errors. We kept a positive attitude and that made the difference.”

McDonogh School 13, Archbishop Spalding 11

Goals: McDonogh  – McCabe Millon 3, Ben Bavar 2, Hugh Brown 2, Jack Horrigan 2, Ben Firlie, Matt McMillen, Luke Miller, Dante Trader; Spalding –  Finn Kelly 3, Ryan Schrier 3, Race Ripley 2, Will Duffy, Josh Tang, Michael Weishaar 

Assists: McDonogh – Miller 2; Spalding – Weishaar 3, Nicholas Gutierrez, Tang

Saves: McDonogh – Anthony Wilson 6; Spalding – Jake Oliver 7

McDonogh 3 4 4 2 – 13

Spalding 1 6 2 2 – 11