Ward delivers game-winner in McDonogh’s win at Boys’ Latin

(From left) McDonogh goal keeper Even Long, George Ward and BJ Farrarre all had a big hand in the Eagles win over Boys’ Latin.

by Gary Adornato

With temperatures on the turf at Boys’ Latin’s Duncan Smith Stadium soaring well above 90-degrees, No. 4 McDonogh and No. 2 Boys’ Latin waged an intense 60-minute uptempo battle, Friday afternoon, in yet another key MIAA A Conference lacrosse showdown.

With both teams battling fatigue in the closing minutes, McDonogh managed two fourth quarter goals, the final one coming with just two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, off the stick of senior attack George Ward, vaulting the Eagles to a thrilling 8-7 win.

Both teams left it all on the field as they repeatedly responded with big plays on both ends in a back-and-forth battle. The visiting Eagles, which displayed great resolve in a come-from-behind win over No. 1 Calvert Hall on Tuesday, twice came back from two goal deficits to BL, which battled back from a two goal deficit of its own, in the second quarter.

The winning play started with a defensive stop by McDonogh (7-4 overall, 3-1 MIAA A), in the final second, and the ball was quickly transitioned to the offensive end. Ward, who had two goals and an assist in the contest, found an open spot on the right side of the crease and senior attack Jack Sweeney provided the perfect feed, which Ward buried.

“The defense made a great stop and threw it ahead on the fast-break and Sweeney hit me diagonally,” said Ward. “I just finished it off. It was a great look.”

The game had been tied, 7-7, since the 10:55 mark of the final quarter when McDonogh’s Dane Swanson completed a hat-trick to even the score.

Boys’ Latin (9-2 overall, 3-1 MIAA A) led 5-4 at the half and stretched its lead to two, early in the third quarter on an unassisted tally by senior Brendan Crouse. Midway through the quarter, Swanson got one back for the Eagles and, with 1:29 left in the third, Riley Mitchell tied the game with an assist from Ward. With just eight seconds to play in the third quarter, Crouse fed Basil Aburn to put the Lakers back in front, 7-6.

Boys’ Latin dominated the opening quarter, but only came out of it with a 2-1 lead. A large chunk of the credit for McDonogh’s ability to hang close rests with junior goalkeeper Evan Long, who was absolutely brilliant, making seven saves in the opening stanza and recording 16 in the game.

“I was just seeing the ball well,” said Long. “The team was playing good defense and the offense was finishing the ball. We were always in the game and I just relied on the D and O to get it done.”

Boys’ Latin’s Konner Caplin scored the first goal of the game, at 7:08 mark of the opening quarter, converting and pass from Matt Brandau. Michael Ubriaco made it 2-0 for the Lakers, with 2:37 left in the first, when he fielded a rebound off of Long and scooped it past the Eagle keeper. McDonogh salvaged something out of the opening quarter when junior Liam Powderly curled around the Laker crease and buried a leaping over-the-should shot, with 34-seconds left.

Another factor in McDonogh’s early survival and eventually turnaround was the play of senior defender BJ Farrarre, who repeatedly intercepted BL passes and forced turnovers, before utilizing his blazing speed to clear the ball into the offensive end.

“We knew we had to buckle down today and we had to give it our all,” said Farrarre, who will be named an Under Armor All-American this week. “I was playing close. I normally play long-stick, but coach and I both knew it was best for the team. It would give us our best chance and with Rich (Dion) playing up top, it is even better for us. We played great.”

McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner praised Long and Farrarre’s contributions.

“Evan Long was on fire today. He kept us in the game,” said Hilgartner. “He was tremendous because we had a lot of breakdowns defensively. Boys’ Latin’s offense will do that to you, so Evan was there every single time.

“He is a big-time game changer,” Hilgartner added on Farrarre. “He is such a difference maker on the field. On the defensive end he did a great job on (Matt) Brandau. In the clearing game and disrupting passes, he’s tremendous.”

Powderly’s score started a string of four straight goals for the Eagles as Ward, from Sweeney, Swanson and Jackson Cummings, from Sweeney, scored to give McDonogh a 4-2 lead. BL responded with two straight goals from Brendan Grimes, the second one assisted by Payton Giberson, to tie the contest and, with 1:10 left in the half, Ben Smith tallied to send the Lakers to the intermission with the lead.

The victory capped a big week for the Eagles, as they swept the areas’ two highest ranked team, after suffering an upset loss to St. Mary’s last week.

“This was a big week for us,” said Farrarre. “We decided if we could take just one game at a time, we could get it done. Our big thing, after losing to St. Mary’s, is ‘We have to work harder.’ That was thing; we worked harder in every game this week.”

In Hilgartner’s opinion, his team’s success this week was a signal to how quickly things can change in the MIAA A Conference.

“Playing the two best teams in the league to this point, it asked a lot of us,” said Hilgartner. “It’s crazy. What a difference there is in this league when you go from week to week.

“After the St. Mary’s game we were so low with negative energy and, today, we came in with positive energy from the Calvert Hall game. It was not the prettiest game with all the turnovers we had. It really hurt us, but Boys’ Latin is great team and, just to get this win, any way we could get it, is huge.”

Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell felt his team was in position, but just came up one play short.

“I think both teams did an excellent job of battling the ups and downs of the game,” said Farrell. “They just made one more play at the game than we did.”

The result, combined with Calvert Hall’s 15-10 win at St. Mary’s and Loyola’s 6-5 win over Severn leaves four teams tied for first place in the league, all at 3-1. St. Paul’s, which defeated Mount St. Joseph on Friday, is just a half game back of the leaders at 2-1.

Pictured above: McDonogh’s Dane Swanson, who led all scorers with three goals, pushes past the defense of Boys’ Latin’s McKenney Box.

MCD 1 3 2 2 — 8
BL 2 3 2 0 — 7
GOALS: MCD-Swanson 3, Ward 2, Mitchell, Cummings, Powderly; BL-Grimes 2, Crouse, Aburn, Ubriaco, Smith.
ASSISTS: MCD-Sweeney 3, Ward; BL-Crouse, Giberson, M. Brandau.
SAVES: MCD-Long 16; BL-C. Brandau 7.