During a timeout with 5 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, and his team trailing 12-6 in the MIAA A Conference lacrosse semifinals, Tuesday, Boys’ Latin School coach Bobby Shriver did not look like a man about to conclude a legendary 36-year coaching career with one of high school lacrosse’s most storied programs.
Shriver was animated, waving his finger and trying to coax a late run from his charges. Unfortunately for Shriver, his third-ranked Lakers were unable to respond against top-ranked McDonogh, which played a near flawless second half to advance to Friday’s championship game with a 13-7 victory at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Field.
“I feel badly for them. This had nothing to do with me. I just feel badly we didn’t present ourselves as well as we would have liked,” said Shriver during his post-game comments. “It’s really disappointing and I am sure they’re terribly disappointed. We would have liked to show a little more fight, especially in the third quarter.”
It was in the third quarter where the Eagles turned the tide.
After winning just one of 10 first half face-offs, the Eagles (14-4 overall) captured 7-of-13 in the second half and that was the edge they needed.
Trailing 5-4 midway through the third, McDonogh scored five times in a span of five minutes and 56 seconds to build a 9-5 lead, which increased to 10-5 before the end of the period. Robby Black and Robert Clark each scored two of the first four, while Blake Gray and Jackson Morrill scored the final two of the third stanza.
Greg Ey, with a feed from Luke Shilling, momentarily slowed McDonogh, with a goal early in the fourth, cutting the Eagle lead to 10-6. McDonogh, however, ended the suspense by scoring the next three goals as it claimed a slot in Friday’s title game.
Justin Wittfelt, Rich Dion and Clark added the final three Eagle goals. Both Black and Clark scored hat-tricks to lead McDonogh. Devin Shewell also had a hat-trick to pace Boys’ Latin. Jacob Stover was also excellent in the McDonogh goal, recording nine saves.
“We started getting ground balls in the third quarter,” said McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner. “We had possessions and our offense did a great job of staying patient, moving the ball and finding the openings. We buried a lot of shots. We shot the ball really well today.”
Hilgartner did not hide his affection for Shriver.
“Just a chance to win over a program like that is pretty amazing. My relationship with Coach Shriver is a special one, one that I value a lot, so, to beat him in his last game, I don’t know how that feels,” said Hilgartner. “I’ve got mixed emotions about that. He’s gotten plenty of wins against me, so I think it’s more about the kids and it was time for our guys today.”
Shriver praised the Eagles.
“I thought McDonogh had the most complete team going into the season and they played a really good lacrosse game today,” said Shriver. “They did everything well. They played good defense. Their goalie had a good game, they picked up ground balls, they cleared the ball and they were efficient on offense.”
As far as completing his coaching career, Shriver said the only disappointment was in this loss, but overall he was filled with joy.
“Maybe tonight, some time, I will reflect that this was the last time I stand on the sideline, but the kids wanted to win, so that was the big focus today,” said Shriver, who completed his iconic coaching career at BL with a record of 507-140, including 15-5 this spring. “It’s been a joyful run. I’m as lucky as just about anybody you could possibly imagine. I coached at a great school, a lot of great kids and had a lot of great moments. There is nothing but joy walking off the field.”
Both teams worked through some nerves in the early minutes, but McDonogh got on the board, with 7:45 to go in the opening quarter with an unassisted tally by senior midfielder Jack Kemp, who stepped into a blast from eight yards and buried it into the upper 90.
The lead grew to 2-0, with 4:25 to go in the first, when Connor Young fed Black. But Shewell got BL on the board, with 3:54 to go in the opening frame, with an unassisted goal.
Early in the second quarter, Patrick Spencer rolled from behind the goal, created some space up top and banged home an unassisted score, to tie the contest. The defending champ Lakers gained their first lead, as Logan Wisnauskas collected an assist from Matt Brandau, to give the Lakers a 3-2 advantage, with 7:44 left.
With 5:39 left in the first quarter, Young scored, unassisted, tying the game again, at 3-3. The Eagles were awarded a penalty at the conclusion of the score, but the Lakers got a short-handed tally as Brandon Shure won the face-off and never gave up the ball before scoring the Lakers’ fourth goal.
The game would go to the half deadlocked at four, as McDonogh’s Barrett Sutley fired in an unassisted goal from 12 yards, with an overhand thrust, with two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Shewell scored his second goal of the night, early in the third quarter, as the Lakers claimed the lead once again, 5-4, but McDonogh dominated from there.
Clark’s second goal, with 3:58 to play in the third, which tied the game, was spectacular. The senior attackman weaved his way through traffic, holding his stick away from his body with an extended right hand and, with one hand, scooped a shot past Laker junior goalie Jack Pezzulla.
“The first half was a little rough, but once we got the possession we were scoring. I don’t think we had that many turnovers in the offensive end,” said Clark. “Once we were winning face-offs in the second half, we were getting the ball up off the ground in the defensive end, and, throughout the game, we just knew if we could get the ball, we could score.”
On Friday, McDonogh will face No. 4 St. Mary’s at Homewood Field, at 8:00 p.m. The Saints knocked off St. Pau’s, 9-5, in the late seminfinal.
MIAA A CONFERENCE LACROSSE SEMIFINALS
AT JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
NO. 1 MCDONOGH SCHOOL 13, NO. 3 BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL 7
BL 1 3 1 2 — 7
MCD 2 2 6 3 — 10
Goals: BL-Shewell 3, Spencer 1, Wisnauskas 1, Glatz 1, Ey 1; McD-Black 3, Clark 3, Sutley 1, Morrill 1, Young 1, Gray 1, Dion 1, Wittfelt 1, Kemp 1.
Assists: BL Brandau 1, Bruno 1, Shilling 1; McD-Young 1, McCoy 1, Morrill 1, Sutley 1.
Saves: BL-Pezzulla 3; McD-Stover 9.
Face-offs: Boys’ Latin, 15-8.
Shots: Boys’ Latin, 29-6.
Ground balls: 29-29.