Lakers hold off Spalding for first MIAA A lacrosse championship since 2014; Smith scores three goals (VIDEO HERE!)


2021 MIAA A CONFERENCE LACROSSE CHAMPIONS

BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL LAKERS


by Derek Toney

As he stood in the middle of a chaotic celebration on the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium field late Friday evening, Boys’ Latin School lacrosse coach Brian Farrell thought back to what Ben Smith told him when Smith was an eighth grader in the lower school in 2017.

“I want to win a championship and be an elite Boys’ Latin attack like the ones they had in the past,’” Smith said to Farrell.

Smith knows lacrosse is more than just a tradition at BL. It’s felt as soon as you step onto its Roland Park campus.

Smith and his Laker teammates secured their legacy Friday. Boys’ Latin won the MIAA A Conference championship with a 9-8 victory over Archbishop Spalding.

Smith had three goals and an assist for the Lakers (9-4 overall), and Riar Schell added two scores. Junior Michael Weisshaar posted a hat trick for Spalding, and UMBC recruit Josh Tang finished with two goals.

In a duel of unexpected title foes, Boys’ Latin rode a big second half to reach the top of the nation’s toughest boys lacrosse league. It’s the first championship for the Lake Avenue school since 2014, and 10th overall (five each in MIAA A and MSA A).

Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell (left) congratulates Ben Smith after Friday’s MIAA A Conference lacrosse title game. Smith tallied four points, leading the Lakers to a 9-8 victory over Archbishop Spalding at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis.

The Lakers did it the hard way, posting three one-goal victories as the No. 5 seed. Boys’ Latin is the lowest seed to win the MIAA A title since Loyola Blakefield in 2013.

The Dons, as the sixth seed, defeated heavily-favored and undefeated Boys’ Latin in the final at Towson University’s Unitas Stadium, spoiling the Lakers’ claim to a mythical national championship. That loss spurred BL to the title the following year.

The Baltimore City school’s latest title run started last Saturday at Loyola. Boys’ Latin trailed 6-1 after one, and 7-4 entering the fourth before rallying for an 8-7 victory. The Lakers trailed top-seed McDonogh by three goals early in Tuesday semifinals before holding on for a 13-12 victory.

In its penultimate match Friday, Boys’ Latin rallied from a 6-4 second half deficit before withstanding a late push from the upstart Cavaliers (12-3) in the final seconds. The Lakers are the first team to take three one-goal decisions en route to the championship.

“They gave me gray hairs, just like they’ve did all playoffs,” said Farrell. “A lot of work went into this and I’m just overly proud.”

“I can’t even put into words, I’m just so proud of this group,” said Smith. “Everything this group has been through, so much ups-and-downs…just to come out with this victory, it’s something you dream about.”

It was a postseason to remember for the University of Pennsylvania-bound Smith, who had a hand in nearly half (eight goals, six assists) of BL’s 30 playoff goals.

Smith was part of a stellar final run by the Laker seniors. Gavin McClernan, whose goal started BL’s fourth quarter comeback against Loyola in the quarterfinals, handed two assists Friday. Eddie Loyd spearheaded a defense that swallowed Spalding in the second half Friday.

Though the Lakers’ playoff run was kickstarted with McClernan’s quarterfinal goal, the direction of their season may have been altered against Calvert Hall College late last month. Trailing 8-4 in the fourth quarter, Boys’ Latin scored the final six goals for a 10-8 victory over then-reigning champ Cardinals.

“We were content with how we were playing and weren’t hitting all cylinders,” said McClernan, who credited junior attack Hopper Zappitello for sparking the Calvert Hall comeback. “That’s been the story of our season, guys stepping us.”

McClernan, who started the spring on the third-team midfield, found senior captain and attack Garrett Glatz for a goal, to start another BL comeback. Smith tied the match at 6 with an unassisted goal with seven minutes, four seconds left in the third.

BL captured its first lead since early in the second quarter as Smith assisted sophomore Jacob Pacheco’s score. Smith put a shot high over the shoulder of Spalding goalie Jake Oliver, pushing the lead to 8-6 after three quarters. He hit Schell, whose strike put the Lakers up 9-6 with 4:36 left in regulation.

“The guys were setting really good picks and the way we were moving the ball,” Smith said about BL’s second half run. “I could get my hands free and let it fly a couple of times.”

“This is his swan song,” said Farrell, who was a standout defender on the 2006 MIAA A title team under legendary coach Bob Shriver, “that’s what you expect from a senior.”

Spalding, in its first championship match, did not succede. The Cavaliers got goals from Ryan Schrier and Weisshaar in the final 45 seconds, keeping their hopes alive.

But when Lakers senior Mac Moreland scooped up the ensuing faceoff with about nine seconds left and ran out the remaining time, the proverbial clock struck midnight on Cavaliers’ Cinderella-like season.

Spalding and its faithful watched as hundreds of Boys’ Latin students stormed the field in celebration.

The Cavaliers have much to celebrate in the final analysis.

Ben Smith (left), Gavin McClernan and Eddie Loyd was part of Boys’ Latin senior class that captured the program’s fifth MIAA A title. The Lakers now have 10 A league titles, including the Maryland Scholastic Association.

They opened eyes with an early season win over perennial national power Malvern Prep (PA). The Cavaliers, who joined the MIAA A in 2004, produced their finest regular season (8-2 in league play) to earn the playoffs’ No. 2 seed.

Spalding gained its first-ever playoff victory (defeated Severn School in quarterfinals last Saturday) and ended Calvert Hall’s three-season reign as MIAA A champs in Tuesday’s semifinals.

“It’s tough for our guys right now to see because they’re devastated, but they’ve done something that’s never been done before,” said Cavaliers coach Brian Phipps. “We’re very excited moving forward.”

The start of the Lakers’ season was paused for COVID-19 protocols. AJ Hernandez, BL’s top defender and a senior captain, went down with a season-ending injury in the MIAA A opener against McDonogh.

The Lakers, who had 21 seniors, overcame a myriad of obstacles.

In the end, another championship plaque rests comfortably on Lake Avenue.

“This is a blue collar group, we fight and love everybody,” said Smith. “We fight til the last whistle. If it doesn’t go our way, at least we know we left our hearts on the field.”

MIAA A CONFERENCE LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIP

AT NAVY-MARINE CORPS STADIUM

BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL 9, ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 8

GOALS: Boys’ Latin – Hopper Zapitello, Jackson Walsh, Ben Smith 3, Riar Schell 2, Garrett Glatz, Jacob Pacheco; Spalding – Race Ripley, Mike Weisshaar 3, Nicholas Gutierrez, Josh Tang 2, Ryan Schrier

ASSISTS: Boys’ Latin – Gavin McClernan 2, Smith; Spalding – Schrier, Gutierrez, Ripley

SAVES: Boys’ Latin – Cardin Stoller 10; Spalding – Jake Oliver 7

Boys’ Latin 1 3 4 1 – 9

Spalding 1 4 1 2 – 8

Championships (including Maryland Scholastic Association)

Boys’ Latin School (10): 2021, 2014, 2006, 2002, 1997, 1988, 1985, 1966, 1964, 1934

Calvert Hall College (9): 2019, 2018, 2017, 2012, 2003, 1977, 1975, 1972, 1971*

City College (7): 1962, 1959, 1958, 1937, 1936, 1935, 1933

Friends School (5): 1963, 1954, 1938, 1929#, 1928

Gilman School (16): 2011. 2009, 2000, 1998, 1995, 1994, 1981*, 1978, 1976, 1973, 1970*, 1956, 1950, 1949, 1948, 1947

Loyola Blakefield (12): 2013, 2008, 2007, 2001, 1990, 1989, 1987, 1986, 1984, 1983, 1980, 1974

McDonogh School (5): 2016, 2005, 1999, 1939, 1932

Poly (5): 1931, 1930, 1929#, 1927, 1926

Severn School (3): 1968, 1965, 1929#

St. Mary’s (3): 2015, 1996, 1993

St. Paul’s School (25): 2010, 2004, 1992, 1991, 1982, 1981*, 1979, 1971*, 1970*, 1969, 1967, 1961, 1960, 1957, 1955, 1953, 1952, 1951, 1946, 1945, 1944, 1943, 1942, 1941, 1940

* co-champs; # tri-champs

Information provided by Mac Kennedy (Boys’ Latin)

MIAA A LACROSSE PLAYOFF RESULTS (SEMIFINALS/FINALS)

2021

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 13, McDonogh 12; Spalding 9, Calvert Hall 8

Final (at Navy): Boys’ Latin 9, Spalding 8

2020

No MIAA A season due to COVID-19 pandemic

2019

Semifinals: Calvert Hall 18, Loyola 4; St. Mary’s 11, Boys’ Latin 5

Final (at Towson University): Calvert Hall 15, St. Mary’s 7

2018

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 8, McDonogh 5; Calvert Hall 12, Loyola 9

Final (at Towson University): Calvert Hall 8, Boys’ Latin 6

2017

Semifinals: Calvert Hall 12, Loyola 8; McDonogh 11, Boys’ Latin 8

Final (at Johns Hopkins University): Calvert Hall 12, McDonogh 6

2016

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 13, Severn 6; McDonogh 20, Loyola 5

Final (at Johns Hopkins University): McDonogh 8, Boys’ Latin 5

2015

Semifinals: McDonogh 13, Boys’ Latin 7; St. Mary’s 9, St. Paul’s 5

Final (at Johns Hopkins University): St. Mary’s 13, McDonogh 8

2014

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 16, McDonogh 10; St. Paul’s 9, Gilman 8

Final (at Towson University): Boys’ Latin 17, St. Paul’s 11

2013

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 12, Calvert Hall 10; Loyola 13, McDonogh 4

Final (at Towson University): Loyola 10, Boys’ Latin 9

2012

Semifinals: Calvert Hall 11, Boys’ Latin 10; Loyola 13, Gilman 7

Final (at Towson University): Calvert Hall 17, Loyola 3

2011

Semifinals: Calvert Hall 11, St. Paul’s 4; Gilman 7, Boys’ Latin 6 (OT)

Final (at Towson University): Gilman 13, Calvert Hall 8

2010

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 10, McDonogh 7; St. Paul’s 7, St. Mary’s 6

Final (at Towson University): St. Paul’s 17, Boys’ Latin 7

2009

Semifinals: Calvert Hall 12, St. Mary 9; Gilman 13, Loyola 6

Final (at Towson University): Gilman 13, Calvert Hall 7

2008

Semifinals: Gilman 6, McDonogh 4; Loyola 10, Calvert Hall 9 (2 OT)

Final (at Towson University): Loyola 12, Gilman 11

2007

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 12, McDonogh 4; Loyola 11, Gilman 5

Final (at UMBC): Loyola 10, Boys’ Latin 6

2006

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 8, Severn 3; McDonogh 8, Gilman 4

Final (at Johns Hopkins): Boys’ Latin 11, McDonogh 6

2005

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 11, Loyola 3; McDonogh 20, St. Paul’s 5

Final (at Johns Hopkins): McDonogh 9, Boys’ Latin 8

2004

Semifinals: Gilman 8, Boys’ Latin 5; St. Paul’s 11, Loyola 10

Final (at Towson University): St. Paul’s 15, Gilman 10

2003

Semifinals: Calvert Hall 16, Loyola 10; St. Mary’s 11, Boys’ Latin 5

Final (at Towson University): Calvert Hall 7, St. Mary’s 5

2002

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 12, St. Mary’s 6; Loyola 8, Gilman 7 (2 OT)

Final (at Johns Hopkins): Boys’ Latin 12, Loyola 7

2001

Semifinals: Loyola 15, Severn 5; McDonogh 8, Gilman 7 (OT)

Final (at Johns Hopkins): Loyola 17, McDonogh 12

2000

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 10, St. Paul’s 9; Gilman 11, Loyola 8

Final (at Towson University): Gilman 10, Boys’ Latin 8

1999

Semifinals: Loyola 12, St. Mary’s 5; McDonogh 11, Gilman 10 (OT)

Final (at Johns Hopkins): McDonogh 18, Loyola 8

1998

Semifinals: Gilman 13, Boys’ Latin 8; St. Paul’s 13, McDonogh 12 (OT)

Final (at Johns Hopkins): Gilman 16, St. Paul’s 12

1997

Semifinals: Boys’ Latin 11, Calvert Hall 6; Loyola 8, Gilman 6

Final (at Johns Hopkins): Boys’ Latin 13, Loyola 8

1996

Semifinals: St. Mary’s 8, Loyola 4; St. Paul’s 13, Boys’ Latin 11

Final (at Johns Hopkins): St. Mary’s 13, St. Paul’s 10