Spencer’s 7 assists carry Boys’ Latin past McDonogh in MIAA A lacrosse quarterfinals; Pietramala drops 4 goals
by Derek Toney
After Boys’ Latin School’s victory over McDonogh School in the MIAA A Conference lacrosse quarterfinals Friday, a spectator asked Cameron Spencer whether he likes lacrosse or basketball.
“Basketball,” Spencer said with no hesitation and a huge grin.
Like just with the roundball, Spencer is super-crafty with a lacrosse stick. The senior finished with seven assists, helping the fifth-ranked Lakers to a 13-9 victory over the No. 7 Eagles in Roland Park.
Freshman Dominic Pietramala scored four goals for BL (11-6 overall), and Ryan Evans, Garrett Glatz and Ben Smith each finished with two tallies. Matt Hilgartner had two goals and an assist for McDonogh (11-5).
The Lakers overcame an early salvo from the surging Eagles, pulling away late to gain a 10th consecutive MIAA A Final Four berth. The Baltimore City school, the No. 3 seed will play second-seed and No. 2 St. Mary’s, Tuesday evening at Towson University’s Unitas Stadium.
“The Lake Show’s” latest appearance on the big stage was fueled by Spencer who finished with eight points (scored goal). He was a main clog in BL’s historic basketball run including a first-ever No. 1 ranking during the past season and back-to-back trips to MIAA A semifinals (reached final in 2018).
Spencer doled out four assists in the second half including on the game’s final three tallies as the Lakers completed a season-sweep of McDonogh, which was the hottest team in the nation’s toughest league.
“I tell you one thing, in clutch situations I would take Cam Spencer on my team every time,” said Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell. “The guy loves to win, he loves to win and you saw that today.”
Spencer, who will attend Loyola University in the fall on a basketball scholarship, said the Lakers are rounding into shape.
“We’re a little more experienced, this is a young group and hadn’t play together too much before that,” said Spencer. “Now it’s the end of the season and we’re moving pretty well.”
The game start was delayed nearly a hour, switching from J. Duncan Smith Field to LeBrun’s Coaches Field on the upper side of BL’s Lake Avenue campus because of damaged the turf on Smith’s field.
The switch didn’t affect McDonogh, which put up three goals in less than 90 seconds in the opening quarter. Boys’ Latin got on the board as sophomore attack Riar Schell finished on a helper from Spencer.
The Lakers gained the lead at 4-3 with Spencer finding the precocious Pietramala. Spencer capped a five-goal run with a tough unassisted tally, getting the shot off as he was pushed hard to the ground.
BL never trailed again.
“We’ve been down before this year and I thought we composed ourselves,” said Spencer. “Once we got a couple in the goal we knew we were fine.”
McDonogh stayed on BL’s heels, closing 2-goal deficits to a score six times, the last at 10-9 following an extra-man tally from JP Ward with 9 minutes, 23 seconds left in regulation. Spencer answered for BL, finding Glatz for a quick-stick score in front of goal.
Spencer connected with Smith for back-to-back scores, leaving the Lakers in control, 13-9 with 2:27 left in regulation.
McDonogh, which overcame a 0-4 start with six straight victories to grab the final postseason spot, got two scores each from Matt McMillen and Harrison Beattie. Junior Gable Braun was again solid on faceoffs, winning 23 of 27.
But after the quick start Friday, the Eagles sputtered.
“There was so much that was uncharacteristic of our team. I felt like it was back to when we played them the first time, except it was probably even worst,” said McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner. “How we defended, how we handled the ball in the middle of the field, how we handled the ball offensively. We lost our poise.”
Hilgartner was proud of his team’s resilience after the 0-4 start, following a 6-0 opening run and brief stay as the nation’s No. 1 team by Inside Lacrosse. Friday marked the final game for 14 Eagle seniors, including son Matt, who will play for Penn next spring.
“I told the seniors if they live the rest of their lives the way they’ve been this season, than they’re going to have great success and, obviously, that’s why we’re out here doing what we do,” Andy Hilgartner said.
Boys’ Latin, which started the MIAA A season with a blowout loss at defending champ and No. 1 Calvert Hall College, is a win away from a third title game spot in four seasons. The Lakers will take on St. Mary’s, which defeated them, 9-8, last month on Smith Field.
“We’ve always believed in these guys. Things weren’t going our way but we stayed composed and keep the faith,” said Farrell. “It’s been a heck of a journey, but I’m really happy where we are at right now and where we’re going to be moving forward.”
MIAA A Conference lacrosse quarterfinal
No. 5 Boys’ Latin School 13, No. 7 McDonogh School 9
Goals: McDonogh – M. Hilgartner 2, Beattie 2, McMillen 2, Powderly, Swanson, Ward; Boys’ Latin – Pietramala 4, Evans 2, Glatz 2, Smith 2, Erickson, Spencer, Tankersly
Assists: McDonogh – Powderly 2, M. Hilgartner; Boys’ Latin – Spencer 7, Evans, Smith, Tankersley
Saves: McDonogh – Long 7; Boys’ Latin – Morton 10
McDonogh 3 3 2 1 – 9
Boys’ Latin 2 5 2 4 – 13