Calvert Hall’s Grant Mitchell claims VSN Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year honors and St. Mary’s BJ Burlace is Defensive Player of the Year; Glenelg’s Hatmaker is top coach
by Derek Toney
The 2019 area high school boys lacrosse season yielded few surprises.
Calvert Hall College again ruled the MIAA A Conference while Patterson Mill (Class 1A), Severna Park (4A) and Westminster (3A) repeated as state public champions. Glenelg returned to state champion status in 2A.
Grant Mitchell helped penned Calvert Hall’s run into history. Mitchell is VSN’s Player of the Year.
BJ Burlace was the lynchpin behind St. Mary’s return to the elite in the MIAA A. Burlace is VSN’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Josh Hatmaker guided Glenelg through a turbulent stretch to a championship. Hatmaker is VSN’s Coach of the Year.
Here are the stories of each of our 2019 boys lacrosse award winners:
2019 VSN BOYS LACROSSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
CALVERT HALL COLLEGE
On a team of dynamic scorers, Mitchell was arguably the most feared. The senior midfielder is Player of the Year.
Mitchell totaled 32 goals and 22 assists for Calvert Hall, which became the first team to win to three straight MIAA A Conference championships. The Cardinals (17-1) went wire-to-wire as the consensus No. 1 team in the area.
Mitchell said Calvert Hall, ranked No. 1 nationally by US Lacrosse and No. 2 by Inside Lacrosse, embraced the lofty expectations.
“We knew we had the talent,” said Mitchell. “We didn’t have to a specific player to have a big game because the way we moved the ball we would find the right player.”
The Cardinals overwhelmed the MIAA A, widely regarded as the nation’s best league, this spring. The Towson school was deep, especially in the midfield.
Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said Mitchell, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, “always seem to have that big goal,” in big games this season.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best offensive midfielders on the team,” said Kelly. “His balance and ability to score with and without the ball is amazing.”
Mitchell had three goals and two assists in Calvert Hall’s 15-7 victory over St. Mary’s in the MIAA A final. The Cardinals won their 12 league matches by nearly 10 goals a game.
“The work ethic we started in the fall really carried through the season,” said Mitchell. “We didn’t start well. Throughout the season, we bonded and the competition in practice made us more dominant than everybody else.”
Mitchell, who Kelly said didn’t know what a slide was when he came to Calvert Hall three years ago from Georgia, became a better defender this season. Mitchell had with 27 groundballs during the spring.
Mitchell, a two-time All-MIAA A selection, will play in the Under Armour All-American Classic, June 29 at Johns Hopkins University. He will play for Ohio State next season.
2019 VSN BOYS LACROSSE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Burlace was arguably the most complete player in the nation’s toughest league. The senior longstick is Defensive Player of the Year.
Burlace caused 21 turnovers and scooped up 71 groundballs for St. Mary’s (12-6), which reached the MIAA A Conference title game. The Saints, No. 2 in the final VSN Top 20, lost to top-ranked Calvert Hall College in the final.
The Saints were 1-15 in Burlace’s freshman year.
“It’s been really fun to watch us grow,” said Burlace. “We get looked down by all the Baltimore schools. Our goals this year was to show everyone that we can play with them.”
Burlace was a major reason, rarely leaving the field. His ability to disrupt on defense and start transition was unmatched.
“You don’t see that in a high school player, the ability to move the ball downfield,” said St. Mary’s coach Victor Lilly. “I know I’m not going to replace it.
He basically played defense for 80 seconds, go down and play offense for 80 seconds, then go back and play defense for another 80. He’s just phenomenal.”
Burlace finished with 12 goals, 10 assists and won 27 faceoffs. He was also a wing for faceoffs.
Burlace said his biggest improvement was communicating with his defensive teammates.
“It was my defense and had to take control,” said Burlace, a four-year starter whose father, Brian, was an All-American defender for the University of Maryland.
A two-time all-MIAA A selection, Burlace will play in the Under Armour All-American Classic, June 29 at Johns Hopkins University. He will play for Yale next season.
2019 VSN BOYS LACROSSE COACH OF THE YEAR
Hatmaker’s unwielding confidence paid off with a championship this spring. Hatmaker is Coach of the Year.
Glenelg (13-6; No. 11 in final VSN Top 20) won its first state title since 2011, defeating Century for the Class 2A crown. The Gladiators won their final 10 games after a 3-6 start.
Hatmaker gave his team a daunting non-league itinary, featuring defending – and eventual – state champs Westminster (3A) and Severna Park (4A).
“We tried to put together a schedule with much competition as possible. We know what’s ahead in 2A and wanted our kids to be ready for the challenge,” said Hatmaker.
In addition to Severna Park and Westminster, the Howard County squad fell to eventual Anne Arundel County and 4A East Region finalist Broadneck, Century, Frederick County’s Urbana and defending 2A state champ and league rival Marriotts Ridge.
“It was rigorous with six great opponents in a row. We weren’t playing where we needed to be so it allowed us to refocus. I give all the credit to the kids.”
With 18 seniors, Hatmaker was confident the Gladiators would “right the ship.” Glenelg avenged its loss to Marriotts Ridge, which won the Howard league title, en route to the South Region title. The Gladiators defeated Baltimore County champ Hereford in the state semifinals before avenging an 8-7 loss to Century with an 11-7 decision in the state final.
Hatmaker, a 1997 graduate of Glenelg, said the program’s winning culture starts with the community.
“It’s special to me to come back and work everyday where so many people put so much time into me,” said Hatmaker. “I was fortunate to walk into a situation where we have great youth league coaches. We have great talent in the area.”
Hatmaker commended his assistants Joe Derwent, Chris Rosas, Jeff Shearer and Jeff Doughty. In 15 seasons, Hatmaker is 212-58 with four state titles (2019, 2011, 2008 and 2007).