Lakers erase another deficit, knock off undefeated McDonogh for MIAA A lacrosse final spot; Pietramala and Smith combine for 11 points (VIDEO HERE!)
by Gary Adornato and Derek Toney
Boys’ Latin School, which has been the master of the second half comeback in 2021, staged a rally in the first half of its MIAA A Conference lacrosse semifinal battle with top-seeded and undefeated McDonogh School, Tuesday at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, after the Eagles jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead.
By halftime the fifth-seeded Lakers had forged in front, 7-5, and led by as many as four in the second half before holding on for a thrilling, 13-12, victory and a spot in Friday’s A Conference title game, opposite second-seeded Archbishop Spalding, a 9-8 winner over Calvert Hall in Tuesday’s other semifinal in Annapolis.
Senior attackman Ben Smith was a stalwart for the Lakers, scoring two goals and dishing out four assists. His goal, with 4 minutes, 52 seconds to play in the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner, as he took a feed from sophomore Jacob Pacheco and buried it to stretch the Lakers lead to 13-10. McDonogh (10-1) closed within one with late goals from Dante Trader and Jack Dudas, but the Lakers won the final face-off and junior Dominic Pietramala was able to kill most of the final 51 seconds before being fouled, to lock up the victory.
“It’s all about heart, our team is all about heart,” said Smith. “We might not be the most talented group on the field, but this team fights hard every time we go out on the field. We always practice like we’re behind and it’s hard, we don’t play too good when we’re up a goal or two, but we always play like we’re behind. That’s what we practice and that’s what we did today.”
Pietramala did far more than run out the clock. The ultra-talented attack, who’s committed to the University of North Carolina, netted four goals and added an assist. He was especially effective during the transition from the second quarter to the third, closing the half with a 16-yard rip to give the Lakers a 7-5 lead, before grabbing a goal and an assist at the start of the third, giving BL its biggest lead of the night at 9-5.
McDonogh remained poised and scored the final three goals of the third quarter. Jack Horrigan netted an assist from McCabe Millon and then the Eagles got two unassisted goals from senior Jack Dudas to close within one, at 9-8. Dudas also scored twice in the fourth quarter, including a sensational tally from the seat of his pants, for the Eagles’ final score. He finished with a game-high five goals.
The Lakers may not have been able to make it to the finish line had it not been for some clutch play from junior goalkeeper Cardin Stoller, who made 10 stops including three critical ones in the final quarter.
McDonogh built an early lead as they dominated possession in the first quarter. The Eagles first creased the net at the 7:57 mark as Trader dropped a ball off to Millon, to the left of the crease, and Millon took one step towards the front of the cage and beat Stoller with a quick strike.
McDonogh’s defense created the second goal as junior Jonny Cool forced a turnover just on the defensive side of midfield and found a wide open Malachi Jones, who instinctively moved forward with his long pole and buried an over-handed bouncer from 20 yards out.
With 4:20 go in the first, Dudas picked a contested ball out of the air and whipped a spectacular behind the head shot past Stoller, who never had a chance, giving McDonogh a 3-0 advantage.
The Lakers got one back, with 1:47 left in the quarter, when Smith distributed a nice feed from behind the goal to Mac Moreland who converted to get the Lakers on the scoreboard. McDonogh, however, responded with only 5.8 seconds to go in the opening stanza, as Millon fed Horrigan at the doorstep and the Eagles led 4-1 at the first break.
The Lakers asserted themselves in the second quarter as they outscored McDonogh 6-1. Gavin McClernan, whose goal sparked BL’s fourth quarter comeback (trailed 7-3, won 8-7) against Loyola Blakefield in Saturday’s quarterfinals, got the run going with a sidewinding blast from the right side. The shot was deflected but had enough juice to trickle across the goal line.
The Lakers pulled within one a couple of moments later as Smith got the second of three first half assists on a delivery to Pietramala. Smith continued to produce, assisting McClernan, at the 9:09 mark, tying the contest, but McDonogh stopped the bleeding, momentarily, on a rocket by Trader, to go back out in front, 5-4.
BL was undeterred, evening the contest again on a speed dodge by a streaking Riar Schell, up the left side. The Lakers then took the lead when Glatz intercepted a pass near midfield and took the ball to the house.
McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner acknowledged that his team has had better performances, but wants them to remember their entire body of work this spring.
“Just a hard fought game by both teams,” said Hilgartner. “I’m just so grateful and thankful to be able to coach the guys we coach, work at the school where we work and be around these guys every day. What they accomplished, coming in and going 10-0 in the league, no one will ever take that from them. It was an incredible accomplishment over a long haul. On any given day someone can lose and we did today. We weren’t at our best in a lot of phases of the game.”
Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell, whose team advanced to their first title match since 2018 (lost to Calvert Hall), said the Lakers are comfortable playing from behind and just needed to finish strong.
“The talk was, ‘hey does this score look familiar right now,’” said Farrell when discussing his team’s early deficit with his team. “Our seniors have been doing it all year. It’s a resilient group. We’ve come back from some hard opportunities and we’ve finished out some games as well.
“It’s the ultimate win to get to spend more time together, especially this year where we lost 14 days because of COVID stuff, at the beginning of the year. We get to play the final game and that’s all you can ask for. I couldn’t be more proud.”
MIAA A CONFERENCE LACROSSE SEMIFINAL
at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium
BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL 13, MCDONOGH SCHOOL 12
GOALS: Boys’ Latin – Dominic Pietramala 4, Garrett Glatz 2, Gavin McClernan 2, Ben Smith 2, Riar Schell, Ryan Spilman, Jacob Pacheco; McDonogh – Jack Dudas 5, McCabe Millon 2, Jack Horrigan 2, Dante Trader 2, Malachi Jones.
ASSISTS: Boys’ Latin – Smith 4, Thomas Moxley, Pietramala; McDonogh – Millon 2, Jonny Cool, Trader.
SAVES: Boys’ Latin – Carden Stoller 10; McDonogh – Anthony Wilson 3.
Boys’ Latin 1 6 2 4 – 13
McDonogh 4 1 3 4 – 12