It was expected to be a heavyweight battle between a pair of tradition rich MIAA lacrosse programs and it did not disappoint.
Second-seeded Boys’ Latin School and third-seeded McDonogh School, the defending champion, squared off in the second of two MIAA A Conference lacrosse semifinal games, Monday night at Johns Hopkins’ historic Homewood Field. McDonogh, ranked No. 2 in the area, spurred by a short-handed goal in the fourth quarter, created some late separation and finished off the third-ranked Lakers, 11-8, in a back-and-forth battle in front of 2,200.
The Eagles (17-3 overall), who were making their fifth consecutive trip to the final four, will play in their third straight championship game, on Thursday, when they meet top-seeded Calvert Hall, a 12-8 winner over fifth-seeded Loyola in Monday’s opening game, at 7:30 p.m. at Hopkins.
The key play of the contest came with 8 minutes, 6 seconds to play in the fourth quarter with BL a man up and the McDonogh defense fighting to protect a 9-8 lead. After a couple of quality chances on the offensive end, the Lakers left the ball on the turf and McDonogh long-stick defender B.J. Farrare made them pay.
On the fly, Farrare scooped the ground ball, split a pair of Boys’ Latin middies and bolted into the offensive end before feeding Jack Sweeney for a short-handed goal and a 10-8 lead. Jack Simmons added an 11th goal, unassisted, with 6:20 left and the Eagles closed it out from there.
“I saw an open ball and I saw a chance to do something, make something happen for my team,” said Farrare of his big play. “We needed effort with a man down to make it work and I made a play for my team.”
McDonogh scored the game’s first goal on an unassisted tally by Griffin Catlett, in the opening minute, but Boys’ Latin got the early jump, scoring the next three goals to take a 3-1 lead at the end of one quarter.
Koby Russell got the Lakers going with an unassisted goal. Konner Caplin, with an assist from Luke Shilling, added the second on an extra-man opportunity, and Brendan Grimes fired home the third.
McDonogh roared back in the second quarter, outscoring the Lakers 5-1 in the stanza to push in front, 6-4, at the half.
Sweeney, assisted by Farrare, scored the first of four straight goals by McDonogh in the second quarter. Simmons followed with an unassisted goal, Liam Powderly, with an assist from Riley Mitchell, scored the third and Powderly fed Jack Parr for the fourth, as McDonogh took a 5-3 lead. The Lakers’ Konner Caplin, with a helper from Matt Brandau, slowed the momentum, but Catlett got it right back with his second goal, assisted by Parr, giving McDonogh a 6-4 lead at the half.
“Tonight was just an epic game against a great opponent,” said McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner. “Boys’ Latin year after year after year plays the game the way it supposed to be played. They have great players, but they are incredibly well coached, poised and they play hard. So, I give them a lot of credit.”
Boys’ Latin used some of that poise to pull even in the early stages of the third quarter with unassisted goals from Brandau and Greg Ey, tying the game at six, but McDonogh countered with three straight scores to regain the momentum. Powderly, who led the Eagles with two goals and three assists, started the run with an unassisted goal and then he assisted on scores by Parr and Farrare, giving the Eagles a three-goal advantage, the largest held by either team all night.
Boys’ Latin answered with two straight unassisted goals by Brandau and generated several quality scoring opportunities, before Farrare took the wind of the Lakers’ sails with with his big short-handed play.
“I thought it was a great lacrosse game. Both teams, on a big time stage, were competitive, tough,” said Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell. “I was proud of the way, some of our seniors played and hand it to McDonogh for having a great game plan and they shot the ball pretty well. We battled back a couple of times when we could have backed down, so I am proud of my guys.”
MIAA A CONFERENCE LACROSSE SEMIFINALS
AT JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
NO. 2 MCDONOGH SCHOOL 11, NO. 3 BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL 8
MCD 1 5 3 2 — 11
BL 3 1 3 1 — 8
GOALS: MCD-Liam Powderly 2, Jack Parr 2, Griffin Catlett 2, Jack Simmons 2, Jack Sweeney 2, B.J. Farrare 1; BL-Matt Brandau 3, Konner Caplin 2, Brendan Grimes 1, Greg Ey 1 Koby Russell 1.
ASSISTS: Liam Powderly 2, B.J. Farrare 2, Riley Mitchell 1, Jack Parr 2; BL-Matt Brandau 1, Luke Shilling 1.
SAVES: MCD- Evan Long 11; BL-Chris Brandau 7.