McDonogh fends off St. Paul’s for MIAA A lacrosse semifinal spot; Millon scores four
by Tom Peace
McDonogh School lacrosse team has been resilient this season. So when upset-minded St. Paul’s School was tied with the undefeated Eagles Saturday afternoon, McDonogh didn’t flinch.
The Eagles methodically pulled away for an 8-6 victory in a MIAA A Conference quarterfinal contest at John McDonogh Stadium in Owings Mills. McCabe Million scored four goals for McDonogh, and Dante Trader added two scores.
The top-seed Eagles scored four straight goals to break a 4-4 deadlock and advance to the MIAA A final four. McDonogh (11-0 overall) will play fifth-seeded Boys’ Latin – an 8-7 victor over fourth-seed Loyola Blakefield – Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
The Eagles topped St. Paul’s, 12-5, at Tullai Field in Brooklandville two weeks ago, but it was a much different story Saturday.
McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner wasn’t surprised.
“They’re (St. Paul’s) incredibly tough and resilient and they’ve shown that all year,” said Hilgartner. “I give them a lot of credit, but give our guys a lot of credit in a really difficult circumstance with a lot of pressure on us.”
“They put up a great fight…I think the key was staying calm and being confident,” said Millon. “We’ve playing well all year. I listened to Derek Jeter a bunch and he talks about falling back on your practice. We’re in the huddle going into the fourth quarter and we’re good. This is our 12th game, just go out and play.”
Matt McMillen regain the lead for McDonogh, converting in extra-man. It was the Eagles’ first goal since the 3:43 mark of the second.
Trader, who will play lacrosse and football for the University of Maryland next school year, fired in a shot and Millon finished the run with back-to-back tallies.
“We were getting a ton of opportunities and finally cashed in,” Hilgartner said.
Zach Hayashi won four of six face-offs in the final quarter for McDonogh, finishing 11-of-17 on the afternoon.
“This is the second season – win or go home and we had the mentality to do anything to win,” said Hayashi. “St. Paul’s is great team and had the ability to come back like they did.”
McDonogh had a 4-1 lead at halftime but St. Paul’s (4-7), coming off a huge come-from-behind victory on Thursday against Gilman in the opening round, scored three unanswered goals, the last an extra-man tally from Jack Blair with 1:40 remaining in the third. Crusader goalie Max Watkinson (nine saves) and St. Paul’s defense kept Eagles in check for nearly two quarters.
Crusaders coach Trey Whitty knew his team, despite being underdogs, was ready for the challenge Saturday.
“We felt we were pretty battle-tested. Three overtime games, 12-day layoff for Covid, we just had a lot of ups and downs and felt we could use it to our advantage,” said Whitty. “We felt like we could keep it close and being battle-tested we’d have a shot.”
It was the final game for Whitty, who will put his focus on being St. Paul’s athletic director. Steven Settembrino will guide the lacrosse program starting in 2022. Whitty, who served three seasons as coach, was previously McDonogh’s defensive coordinator.
The Eagles, who won last won the MIAA A title in 2016, are two victories away from completing a perfect run through the nation’s toughest boys high school lacrosse league. The next challenge is Boys’ Latin, which rallied from a five-goal deficit to upend fourth-seed Loyola Blakefield.
McDonogh defeated the Lakers, 15-8, in early April.
“It’s about winning the game and moving on in tournament play,” said Hilgartner. “Seedings don’t matter, records don’t matter, it’s just about whatever happens next.
MIAA A CONFERENCE QUARTERFINAL
MCDONOGH SCHOOL 8, ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL 6
Goals: St. Paul’s – Smyth 4; Noah Chimer, Jack Blair; McDonogh – McCabe Million 4, Dante Trader 2, Jack Dudas, Matt McMillen
Assists: McDonogh – Hugh Brown, Luke Miller
Saves: St. Paul’s – Max Watkinson 9; McDonogh – Anthony Wilson 15
St. Paul’s 0 1 3 2 – 6
McDonogh 3 1 0 4 – 8