Hoffman leads the way with a hat-trick; Highlight boys and girls both start 2-0; Command squads improve to 3-0 (VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE)


Julia Hoffman

Facing a one-goal deficit against Philadelphia with just under 12 minutes remaining in the second half of the girls Highlight bracket — for rising high school juniors and seniors — at the 2017 Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Weekend at Towson University, Baltimore coach Shelley Brezicki (Manchester Valley) called a timeout to settle her players down.

Even though it was a standard ploy by Brezicki, the results were spectacular as Baltimore scored four of the game’s final five goals to defeat Philly, 11-9, on the blazing hot turf of Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Shortly after play resumed, Baltimore center Maddie Jenner one-hopped a step-in shot from just inside the 8-meter arc to tie the score before her fellow rising senior McDonogh teammate Julia Hoffman put Baltimore back on top after a hard cut through the arc.

Philadelphia was not done, however.

It tied the score for the final time on a free position shot by rising senior midfielder Olivia Dirks with five minutes left in regulation.

Baltimore responded with a goal of its own by rising junior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn (Glenelg Country School) on a back-handed liner that eluded Philly goalie Madison Doucette with one minute, 47 seconds to go.

Jenner, who prevailed on six of 11 draws in the second half, grabbed the ensuing draw to allow Baltimore to run down the clock to 23 seconds before Hoffman iced the game with her third goal of the game.

It was a struggle, though, despite Baltimore building a 7-4 advantage early in the second half on a Hoffman goal.

Philly bounced back in a big way while Baltimore seemed to lose its direction while giving up four consecutive goals to fall behind, 8-7.

“On offense, we weren’t patient,” said Hoffman, a Maryland commit who helped the Eagles to their 177th consecutive victory and ninth consecutive IAAM A Conference title in May. “We took shots that weren’t needed, we forced passes. We started panicking when they came back and that made us have some forced turnovers.”

Yet in the final 10 minutes, Baltimore flashed its winning mettle.

“Coach said that we’re the Baltimore team and everybody is coming after us and giving us their best shot,” Hoffman added. “We needed to stay composed and make smart plays and take smart shots. We were frantic, but we had to get back to the way we know we can play.”

Baltimore, which dominated the South, 16-5, in its morning game, raised its record to 2-0 in pool play and raised its coaches’ expectations.

“This first game (against the South) was about assessing talent,” said Brezicki, who is assisted by Abbey Swift (C. Milton Wright) and Tara Restly (Archbishop Spalding). “This game was about assessing their heart.”

Jenner and Hoffman led the way with three goals apiece while Ahearn, Hannah Mardiney (Notre Dame Prep), Haley Urgo (Spalding), Molly Lynch (John Carroll) and Tayler Wareheim (Manchester Vally) had single goals.

Hoffman chipped in with two assists. Lauren Cremen (Manchester Valley) had the only other feed for Baltimore.

Baltimore rising junior goalies Emily Sterling (John Carroll) and Amber Bustard (Roland Park Country School) combined for six saves.

Philadelphia coach Brooke Watson said her team did well to keep Jenner from dominating the draw.

“Our kids were getting a pretty good feel for her,” Watson said. “So we’re not expecting the draw to be an issue the next time we play.”

The Baltimore Highlight boys squad, loaded with MIAA A Conference talent, also swept its two games, beating Upstate New York, 14-3, before edging New England, 11-9.

In both games Baltimore had to overcome deficits to prevail, topping Upstate New York, 14-3, and New England, 11-9.

Coach Bryan Kelly (Calvert Hall) said that his son, rising senior attackman Jacob Kelly (Calvert Hall), rising senior attackman Matt Brandau (Boys’ Latin) and rising senior midfielder Jack Simmons (McDonogh) had three goals each for the winners. Jacob Kelly also had an assist as the Baltimoreans closed out the game on a sizzling 13-0 run.

Against New England, Baltimore was behind, 4-0, before notching nine of the game’s next 10 goals to take command. Brandau and Simmons scored three more times in the win and Kelly added two goals and an assist.

Rising senior goalie Chris Brandau (Boys’ Latin) was the difference, Bryan Kelly said.

When asked how many assists the goalie recorded, Kelly said, “A lot. He had some point-blank saves, too. He was great.”

The Baltimore Command boys and girls (rising freshmen and sophomores) won for the third time in three tries in pool play.

The boys upended the West, 9-5, while the girls decisioned Upstate New York, 13-8.

Pool play will conclude on Saturday when the Baltimore Command girls play the South and the boys take on Upstate New York.

In the Highlight brackets, the Baltimore boys meet the West and the South and the girls meet the West and Upstate New York.

The playoffs are Sunday, with the top two seeds in each pool earning a bye. The championship games in all four brackets are also on Sunday.