Baltimore Highlight boys and girls, Command girls prevail at Under Armour Underclassmen Lacrosse Games
by Nelson Coffin
It was a big day for Baltimore boys and girls lacrosse teams at the Under Armour Underclass Lacrosse Games on Sunday at St. Paul’s in sunny and hot Brooklandville.
Three of the four teams representing Charm City — the Highlight boys and girls and the Command girls — won championships at the prestigious four-day event that boasted East Coast rivals Long Island, CONNY (Connecticut/New York), Upstate (NY), New England, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. in addition to squads from the South, Southwest, West and Midwest.
Of the three Baltimore teams to win, the most unlikely of the bunch were the Command girls.
For one thing, they had to play three games on Sunday to win the title after posting a meager 2-2 record in pool play.
Moreover, coach Mac Ford’s group had to eliminate well-rested CONNY, 10-9, in the semifinal round after topping D.C., 12-8, earlier that morning.
CONNY, which featured Command MVP Chloe Humphrey, had clobbered the Baltimoreans, 18-9, in the opening game of pool play and took a 4-0 lead in the semifinal.
After that, though, the locals buckled down with defenders Madison Beale (St. Paul’s School for Girls) and Kylie Redman (Gerstell Academy) slowing down Humphrey while a Baltimore rally, ignited by Emily Peek’s work on draws, went full throttle.
By halftime, Baltimore had inched back to within 5-3 and had enough momentum to push forward in the second half to advance to the final.
“We had played Peek (Notre Dame Prep) on attack,” Ford said. “But then we started using her on the draw and that was the key for us.”
The championship was also hotly contested against traditional foe Long Island, although Baltimore took a 10-8 victory to claim the crown.
Rising sophomore Caroline Godine (McDonogh), who was also selected to the Command Division All-Tournament team, led Baltimore with three goals while Peek scored twice. Grace Driggs (St. Mary’s), Peyton Howell (NDP), Finley Barger (NDP), Jaclyn Marszal (Glenelg Country School) and Kori Edmondson (McDonogh) added single goals.
Julia Suriano (Bryn Mawr) recored seven saves in the first half for Baltimore and Jocelyn Torres (Glenelg) chipped in with three stops.
Torres also came up with a critical interception late in the game that thwarted Long Island’s comeback bid.
“That sealed the deal for us,” Godine said about Torres’ alert pickoff. “That was the most important play of the game. And Emily really gave us a lot of momentum with some clutch draws.”
The Highlight girls went 6-0 in the tournament, concluding with a 14-12 triumph over CONNY in the final after nearly squandering a six-goal lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
Baltimore throttled D.C., 14-8, to earn a berth in the final against CONNY.
The locals went on a 9-2 run bridging the first and second halves, including a seven-goal flurry to open the final period and then holding on as CONNY made a powerful push down the stretch.
Shannon Smith (Roland Park Country School) opened the scoring for Baltimore in the second half with McDonogh standout Marsh scoring twice during the spree and fellow Eagles Blake Cunneen and Kayla Abernathy following suit.
Sophia Wrisk (Catonsville) and Highlight MVP Maggi Hall (Bel Air) were the other goal scorers as Baltimore bolted to a 13-7 advantage.
After CONNY All-Tournament performer Ashley Humphrey answered, Eloise Clevenger (Marriotts Ridge) rebuilt the six-goal cushion with a goal with just over 10 minutes left in regulation.
Humphrey then scored twice and assisted two other goals to make it 14-12, before Baltimore ran out the clock.
Shaw paced Baltimore with three goals while Clevenger and Wrisk had a pair of goals and an assist each.
Marsh chipped in with two tallies and Demma Hall (Century), Kristin O’Neill (Archbishop Spalding), Cunneen, Abernathy and Maggi Hall had one each.
Maggi Hall said that she was “shocked” to be named MVP, even though the Florida commit’s goal in overtime to beat defending champion Philadelphia on Saturday was crucial to the seeding for Sunday’s playoff bracket in that Philly had to play CONNY on the other side of the semifinal bracket while Baltimore handled D.C.
“We earned this as a team,” she said about the award. “My teammates were great.”
She added that the strong spurt to open the second half was nothing new for coach Brian Reese’s team.
“We’re a second-half team,” she said. “We played to the last whistle. With Eloise (Clevenger), our job was to tire out the defense, give our middies a rest and finish. And that’s what we did.”
Reese praised Smith for her work on draw controls.
“She was awesome in the circle,” he said. “And our momentum started with the draws.”
The Baltimore Highlight boys had a real problem in their championship rematch against D.C. at Martin D. Tullai Field in the tournament’s final game.
Actually, it was two problems — D.C. goalies Jack Fracyon and George Alvarez.
The duo combined to make 15 saves to keep their team close to the Baltimoreans, who won their sixth straight game by topping their southern neighbors, 8-7.
Trailing, 7-6, and playing man-down defense, Baltimore rallied on goals by All-Tournament performer Cole Herbert (Calvert Hall) and Dane Swanson (McDonogh) in the late going.
Two saves in the final minute by Kevin Ellington (Loyola Blakefield) secured the hard-fought win.
Highlight MVP Sam King (Gilman) led the scoring parade with three goals and an assist while Swanson had a pair of goals.
Long-stick middie Dave Lamarca (Loyola) pitched in with a goal and an assist to go along with single goals by Herbert and Dutch Furlong (Gilman).
Coach Shawn Burke’s squad thumped the Midwest, 9-3, in a semifinal as Herbert scored twice and King had a goal and four assists.
Last year’s Highlight MVP Daniel Kelly (Calvert Hall) and fellow rising senior stars Brendan Grimes (Boys’ Latin) and Jack Koras (Loyola) were eligible but did not play on what surely would have been a vaunted attack unit, as all three attempt to earn a spot on the US U19 Men’s National Team. Thus, King, Casey Doyle (Gilman) and Henry Tolker (Loyola) took advantage of the situation to show what they could do.
And they, like the rest of their teammates, excelled.
Burke said that he wasn’t sure who would be picked as the MVP.
“But then the more I thought about it, Sam was our most valuable player,” he said. “He quarterbacked the offense. I told those guys that they would have an opportunity to show what they could do and they did.”
King, a Denver commit, said that playing with such skilled teammates made his job easier.
“We have a ton of great players, and I fed off them,” he said. “Coach told us we would have chance to show what we could do. It just feels good to represent Baltimore and to play with all these great MIAA players.”
Pictured above: Gilman rising senior attackman Sam King, with Lee Corrigan, President of Corrigan Sports, was named the MVP of the boys Highlight Division at the Under Armour Underclassmen Lacrosse Games on Sunday afternoon at St. Paul’s.