No. 11 Westminster boys lacrosse follows girls team, claims 3A state championship (VIDEO HERE!!)
by Gary Adornato
With the school’s girls’ lacrosse team having played on the same field earlier in the evening and winning the first state championship in the history of their program, the Westminster boys wanted to keep the party going when they hit the turf at Stevenson University’s Mustang Stadium for their 3A state final match-up with Northern of Calvert County, Thursday night in Owings Mills.
With seemingly half the town of Westminster in the stands, the Owls started fast, survived a few nervous moments in the third quarter and then finished off the Patriots for a 12-8 victory, claiming their second state crown and the first since 2013.
The Owls scored the first four goals of the game and the final three of the second quarter to build an impressive 7-2 lead at the half. Patrick
Stewart scored two of his three goals in the first seven minutes of the contest and Alec Kozlowski scored all three of his goals the first half to fuel the surge.
Northern, which was looking to win a second straight state title, came charging back in the third quarter, scoring four consecutive goals over the first six minutes of the quarter, as Daniel Horak’s unassisted tally pulled the Patriots within one with 6:22 left in the quarter.
Christian Etchison, a junior transfer from McDonogh School, took a feed from Bubba Love, and scored an extra-man goal, with 4:43 left in the third quarter, to break the Northern run and then scored a bit of garbage goal, which both teams admitted broke the Patriots just a bit.
Etchinson, one of three Owls with a hat-trick on Thursday, snagged a bounding ball that had been check loosed from sophomore Connor Covey, near the crease, and quickly dumped it in the net to re-establish a three goal lead for Westminster, at 9-6, and returned the momentum to the Owls.
“The guy got a great check on him and I saw the ball bounce up in the air,” said Etchinson. “I wondered if I could just hit this one in and get a little quick momentum. I went up there and Chase Buckwalter tipped it with his stick and then I caught it and put it through the goalie’s legs.”
“It took a lot of our energy to get back there (within one goal), said Northern coach Joe Casalino. “Once you dig that big a hole, if something bad happens to you, you lose some of that momentum. That goal really hurt us. It made it 10-7 and I felt like that was a real momentum shift and made it difficult being back down by three goals.”
Abe Hubbard gave Northern a boost by scoring with just one second left in the third quarter, but Covey scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter and the Owls could sense victory.
“It’s exciting because I know how hard these guys worked, since the end of last season,” said head coach Stephen DeFeo. “They were definitely motivated by last season. They were on a mission, for sure.”
Northern netted its final goal of the evening, with 4:18 left, but the Owls stayed poised and closed out the Patriots as Stewart completed his hat-trick, with just 3:10 to play, ensuring that the evening would go down in history for the Carroll County school.
“This is what you strive for as a school,” said Etchinson, who recalled watching his older brother help the 2013 Westminster team win their state title and remembering how much that inspired him to want to win one of his own one day.
“You want to represent your county, you want to represent your town. For both of us to do it, and softball has a chance to win their states tomorrow night. For our school to be represented like this is amazing.”
DeFeo expressed a special pride in both programs.
“Being a graduate of Westminster High School, Class of 1982, I am extremely proud of our girls team tonight for their first state championship,” said DeFeo. “This is such a rare opportunity for any school to have.”
Senior goalkeeper Logan Covey, Connor’s older brother, made 11 saves against Northern’s talent scorers. He summed up the team’s emotions.
“It’s so awesome,” said the older Covey, who was praised by his coach for several excellent stops early in the contest which helped the Owls get on their first half roll. “Getting that trophy. It’s just so awesome.”
Love also had a goal for Westminster and finished with three assists. Brandon Sulhoff paced Northern with two goals and an assist and Abe Hubbard also scored twice for the Patriots.
CLASS 3A STATE BOYS’ LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Mustang Stadium, Stevenson University
NO. 11 WESTMINSTER 12, NORTHERN-CALVERT 8
WESTMINSTER 4 3 2 3 — 12
NORTHERN-CALVERT 1 1 5 1 — 8
GOALS: WEST-Christian Etchinson 3, Alec Kozlowski 3, Patrick Stewart 3, Conner Covey 2, Bubba Love; NTH-Brandon Sulhoff 2, Abe Hubbard 2, Daniel Horak, Mark Crawford, Matt Holland, Mason Chaney.
ASSISTS: WEST-Bubba Love 3, Chase Buckwalter, Christian Etchison; Hunter Huxoll 2, Brock Daniel, Brandon Sulhoff.
SAVES: WEST-Logan Covey 11; NTH-Alex Sheehan 15,
SHOTS: Westminster, 36-27.
FACE-OFFS: Westminster, 14-9.
GROUND BALLS: Westminster, 24-22.