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  • The Severna Park boys lacrosse team found itself in a tight battle with Churchill at Stevenson University on May 24, playing from behind for almost the entire game before scoring late to take a 7-6 victory and the 4A/3A state championship.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    The Severna Park boys lacrosse team found itself in a tight battle with Churchill at Stevenson University on May 24, playing from behind for almost the entire game before scoring late to take a 7-6 victory and the 4A/3A state championship.

Severna Park Boys Beat Churchill At Buzzer To Repeat As 4A/3A Champions

Colin Murphy
View Bio
May 25, 2017

OWINGS MILLS, Md.—The Severna Park boys lacrosse team led Wednesday night’s 4A/3A state final against Winston Churchill for all of three seconds.

Those seconds belonged to Jack Thomas, and as a result the 2017 state championship belongs to Severna Park.

Thomas’ unassisted score in the closing moments on Wednesday lifted the Falcons to a wild 7-6 victory over the Bulldogs at Stevenson University, completing an undefeated season for Severna Park (20-0) and giving the program its second consecutive state crown and seventh all-time.

“I can’t even describe it right now,” said Thomas. “I’m pretty speechless. I’m just glad I could help the team get the win, and it was our final goal of the season, and I’m happy the team did it.”

VIDEO: Severna Park Boys Are Back-To-Back State Champs

While Severna Park has rather brilliantly dictated terms to opponents in plenty of dominant victories this season, on Wednesday it was Churchill (19-2) that set the tone early. The Bulldogs leveraged the precocious faceoff expertise of freshman Merrick Willeford—who won an astounding 13 of 15 faceoffs for Churchill—into slow and deliberate possessions. Early goals by Jack Taylor, Spencer Knife and Reed Moshyedi came as Falcon fans crowed for stalling, and the first quarter ended with Severna Park down 3-0 and having barely held the ball.

Trevor Patschorke restored a little normalcy with a score four minutes into the second quarter, and Chase Cope converted a pass from Cian Chung minutes later to pull Severna Park to within 3-2. But Knife struck again to make it 4-2, and Churchill went into halftime with a lead, having held Severna Park’s formidable offense to just two goals.

A game many expected to be a coronation for Severna Park was, at halftime, a contest.

Severna Park coach Dave Earl noted how discombobulated the Falcons were through much of the first half. “Honestly I think we came out a little nervous, a little flat, kind of got away from the things that we do that have made us what we are,” said Earl. “[Churchill had a] great game plan against us. Their game plan to slow it down really took us out of our usual run-and-gun style.”

But even then—how long could Churchill sustain its success against powerful Severna Park? The Falcons seemed to right the ship in the third quarter, as Steven Zichelli found Chung for a score, and Josh Coffman assisted to Thomas on an extra-man opportunity to tie the game 4-4.

Still the Bulldogs wouldn’t budge, as Ryan Leonard’s unassisted goal with one second left in the third gave Churchill a 5-4 lead with one quarter to play and sent the Bulldog fans into a frenzy at Mustang Stadium.

The upset bid was real. The Bulldogs believed. Severna Park hadn’t trailed this late in a game—or even been in a tight battle at all—since hard-won spring-break victories over Severn and Spalding.

Amidst tense possessions and defensive playmaking by both teams, including Severna Park goalie Shane Carr (eight saves) and Churchill goalie Alex Crombie (nine saves), Patschorke again tied it up at 5-5, making it a fresh game in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

Knife regained the lead for the Bulldogs with his third goal, putting Churchill back ahead at 6-5 with 4:38 to play, but the Falcon offense responded with a tying goal from Patschorke down the right alley at the 1:38 mark, making it 6-6:

“Chase Cope threw me a great pass, the defense was late to slide out to me, and because of the way we move the ball so quickly, it set me up for an easy shot,” said Patschorke.

Churchill had possession after the faceoff and was milking the clock down to take the last shot, but Severna Park’s defense pressed high to dislodge the ball. The Falcons got it to their own box and called timeout with 9.1 seconds remaining.

Thomas took the ball behind the goal on the restart and went flying towards the cage like a sprinter off the starting block.

“I knew with 9.1 seconds left I had to go to the goal right away,” said Thomas, a junior, whose plan was to find Max Dunoyer, Patschorke, Cope or Zichelli on cuts. “They covered that really well. I felt the defender was overplaying, so I just planted, inside rolled, and there was no coma-slide, and I just went to goal.”

His score sent Severna Park’s students into a raucous celebration as Churchill’s players dropped stunned to the turf. The clock showed 3.1 seconds remaining. It was Severna Park’s first lead of the game.

Willeford won his final faceoff, but couldn’t get a shot off from 40 yards out, and the horn sounded.

The defensive group of Carr and long poles Tyler Ward, Cullen Joyce and Griffin Patrick was without starter Reed Schaller, who attended the game sitting in a wheelchair after having successful emergency surgery to relieve compartment syndrome on his right leg earlier in the day. Sophomore Matt Alton filled the void, and the defense held Churchill to just two goals in the second half.

“Our defense has played incredible all year,” said Earl. “I think today it was just another great game. The way they persevered and hung in there on those long possessions, it was pretty neat.”

Earl added that the experience points earned in the close games against Severn and Spalding ultimately paid dividends for the Falcons.

“I’m just really proud of how we fought back,” said Earl. “We kept them close. I didn’t feel like we were really getting the bounces and the breaks. The fact that we were able to keep it within a couple goals was huge for us. It says a lot about the character of these guys. They’re just hard workers. They love what they do. We have fun at practice. When it’s time to get after it, we get after it. When it’s time to have some fun, we have some fun. All that hard work just really helped us stay the course.”

Patschorke said the gritty win was representative of the team’s true character and its success over the past two years, which includes a 20-0 record this season, a 36-game win streak and consecutive state titles.

“I think it’s the way we’ve really bonded together and bought into everything we do,” said Patschorke. “We really showed great character tonight. We played from behind the entire game. Against a team like that, that’s very hard to do, and I think it really shows the work we’ve put in from the offseason, from March 1st and all the way through, and it’s really paid off for us.”

Thomas said the recipe for success has been a natural fit for the whole group.

“Coming to practice every day, it’s a blast,” said Thomas. “I love playing with these guys. It doesn’t even feel like it’s hard work when you’re playing lacrosse with your friends. So, we just love to get out there, have fun and get better every day.”

The 2017 4A/3A state champion Severna Park boys lacrosse players are Trevor Patschorke, Chase Cope, Cian Chung, Steven Zichelli, Josh Coffman, Shane Carr, Max Dunoyer, Tyler Ward, Cullen Joyce, Griffin Patrick, Reed Schaller, Matt Alton, Drew Betch, Patrick Byrne, Hans Hansen, Bobby Ruppert, Michael Harmeyer, Kyle Lowman, Jacob Chalk, Dean Draughn, Grayson Gallagher, Jacob Delare, Aiden McNally, Elliott Skoop, Jimmy Maher, Michael Zichelli, Garrett Edwards, Ray Coates, Cameron Bear, Brendan Sullivan, Dominic Cipriano, Ben Morgan, Chase Lentz, Alex Hunt, Gabe Sauvageau, Brady Wachs, Trent Bellotte and Barret Casto



Extra Point:

Much like the Severna Park girls were one night prior, the Churchill boys were well-mannered, poised, respectful and well-spoken during what was doubtlessly a painful postgame press conference. Having been seconds away from what would have been the program’s first state title and a momentous triumph over a heavily-favored Severna Park team, the Bulldogs players and coaches responded to questioning by complimenting the Falcon program and expressing their commitment to each other. They spoke proudly of their team and season and how much they improved since losing to Severna Park 10-5 in a much less competitive game during the 2016 state semifinals. It is a testament to the parents, schools, coaches and kids themselves that student-athletes such as the Severna Park girls and Churchill boys are able to gracefully handle the media attention they receive, even in defeat.  

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