At Blandair Regional Park the past couple days in Columbia, wicked shots turned into goals or big saves, faceoffs were fiercely contested and battles for ground balls were won.
Lacrosse was being played at the 8th annual STX National High School Lacrosse Showcase — following COVID-19 safety measures — and the Eagles team representing McDonogh made sure to make the most of the opportunity.
Reaching the title game with wins over Indiana-power Culver Academy and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association rival Dons Squad of Loyola Blakefield earlier on Friday, the Eagles fell short to Connecticut-based Taft in the late afternoon title game, 11-3. But for the Eagles, the chance to once again wear the team’s orange was savored time. Because the 2020 senior class missed out on its spring season, the showcase permitted graduated seniors one last chance to play with their high school teammates.
“I’m super grateful that coach [Andy] Hilgartner let us come out here because us seniors haven’t gotten to play since mid-March,” said recent graduate Scott Cole, who is set to play at Lehigh. “Hearing that the [spring] season was canceled was probably the most disappointing news because we worked so hard this year and we really felt it was our year to win it all. So it’s been great to see these guys again [this week] and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love these guys more than anything.”
For the second time in as many days, Taft got the better of the McDonogh side, also claiming an 11-7 win in Thursday’s pool play. With Friday’s title game tied at 2 toward the latter stage of the 24-minute first half, Taft rattled off four straight goals in a 4-minute stretch to take a 6-2 halftime lead. The Connecticut side opened the second-half scoring with two straight goals and the advantage was never challenged.
Lucas Baehr, John Dudas and Hugh Brown had the goals for the Eagles.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be playing with the Baltimore Crabs [club team], so it’s been pretty normal recently, but obviously playing with McDonogh it’s a little different,” said Dudas, a rising senior. “I came out here with a goal to just have fun. … Obviously, things didn’t go our way [in the title game], but we’re getting ready for next spring.”
He added: “It’s more than just a lacrosse team — it’s a culture and we live by the word ‘pride.’ That means so much to us and our program — just going out every day giving it our all and having as much fun as we can. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Earlier on Friday, the Eagles claimed a 9-7 semifinal win over Dons Squad.
In leading from start to finish, the McDonogh scored the game’s first four goals, led 6-3 at the half and thwarted the Dons’ comeback bid with some fine defense. With their lead cut to 8-6 with 5:30 to play, the Eagles killed off a 1-minute penalty and then got a goal from Brown with 2:41 left to secure the win.
Cole led the offense, opening the scoring in each half to finish with two goals. McCabe Millon also scored twice for the winners.
The Dons got a two-goal, one-assist effort from rising senior Matt Dixon.
The showcase featured 21 teams — including Calvert Hall and Boys’ Latin — from 11 states and Washington with pool play opening on Thursday.
The tournament’s co-director, former Boys’ Latin coach Bob Shriver, praised the work of the Howard County Parks and Recreation department for the accommodations and strict safety measures that were employed.
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