Southern tops No. 15 Fallston for Class 1A state lax crown; Gregoire and Sims combine for eight goals (VIDEO HERE)
2022 CLASS 1A BOYS LACROSSE
by Nelson Coffin
Considering the way it steamrollered the opposition — by a whopping 70-10 margin — in the postseason, no one should be surprised by the way the unranked Southern’s boys lacrosse team opened the Class 1A state championship game against No. 15 Fallston on Tuesday night at Loyola University Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
The Bulldogs (14-5 overall) were pretty good on the closing end, too, finishing off the Cougars, 14-7, in convincing fashion to claim the program’s second crown since 2017, while only winning four draws against Fallston’s formidable junior FOGO Aiden Dixon.
Even though Dixon gained possession after possession, the Cougars could not take advantage of his work well enough to take advantage of the situation.
“We tried to push him back to their defensive end and then start riding him,” Southern coach Brendan Brace said.
It was all part of the Bulldogs’ plan to move forward this season after falling in a 2021 state semifinal.
“We knew we had to come out firing this year,” Southern senior midfielder Garrett Simi said. “And that’s just what we did.”
Southern grabbed a 3-0 advantage on Tuesday in the first six minutes on goals by junior attackman Carter Moon, senior attackman Ryan Gregoire and Simi until Fallston senior midfielder Brandon Mudd responded on a lefty rocket with 4:28 left in the opening period.
“We wanted to set the tone early,” Brace said, noting how unselfish the Bulldogs’ offense was in attacking Fallston’s zone with pinpoint inside passes. “All year we’ve been sharing the ball, whether it’s inside or outside.”
The Bulldogs struck two more times — Moon and senior midfielder Tyler Wedick doing the honors — to take a 5-2 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Cougars shaved the deficit to 5-2 when senior midfielder Michael Estremsky bullied his way to the doorstep for a goal before Southern’s man-down defense survived two consecutive one-minute penalties sandwiched between goals by Simi and Gregoire to go up, 7-2.
Fallston (14-4) carved into the lead on goals by sophomore attackman Jacob MacMillan and junior attackman Quinn McLaughlin, although the rally was stunted when Gregiore’s one-hopper found the upper right corner and Simi converted a nice Wedick look inside to build the halftime cushion to a more comfortable 9-4.
The Cougars, who overcame a 1-2 start to the season, had visions of a second-half comeback, although that scenario never came to fruition after Southern junior Jackson Seymour tossed a beautiful looping pass to fellow long-stick Cody Hitchcock on the dead-run for a transition goal and Moon rippled the net again one a feed from senior midfielder Mason McGivern to make it an 11-4 hill for Fallston to climb.
“That was a big momentum shift for us,” Gregoire said. “They made a mistake and we capitalized.”
Fallston junior midfielder Lucas Hurlburt and Wedick traded goals to finish the third period with the Cougars in arrears, 12-5, and without enough time to overcome a tight defense that featured seniors Jack Schiavone Ethan Phipps and Jackson Germann with Seymour and Hitchcock protecting senior goalie Brady Gauntner (11 saves).
The final frame was a standoff, with Gregoire and Simi netting their game-high fourth goals and senior midfielder Luke Wolff and senior attackman Charlie Perri answering for Fallston.
“A lot of us felt that we should have been here (in the championship) last year,” said Gregoire, who finished the season with 48 goals and 26 helpers.
Moon said that taking quality shots was one key to success. Another was desire.
“We wanted it more than they did,” said Moon, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 75 points on 50 goals and 25 assists.
CLASS 1A BOYS LACROSSE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Ridley Athletic Complex, Loyola University
SOUTHERN 14, NO. 15 FALLSTON 7
Southern 5 4 3 2— 14
Fallston 1 3 1 2 — 7
Goals: Southern-Carter Moon 3, Ryan Gregoire 4, Garrett Simi 4, Tyler Wedick 2, Cody Hitchcock; Fallston-Jacob MacMillan, Lucas Hurlburt, Luke Wolff, Brendon Mudd, Michael Estremsky, Quinn McLaughlin, Charlie Perri.
Assists: Southern-Carter Moon 2, Ryan Gregoire, Jackson Seymour, Tyler Wedick 2, Mason McGivern 3.; Fallston-Jacob MacMillan 2, Lucas Hurlburt.
Saves: Southern-Brady Gauntner 11; Fallston-Landon Mills 9.