For a time on Wednesday night, it seemed as if the Broadneck boys lacrosse team was going to pull a comeback upset in the final moments of its 4A East region final matchup with Severna Park and give retiring coach Clay White a storybook finish to his career.
The Falcons had their own story in mind.
Severna Park built an early lead on four goals by Mikie Harmeyer and three by Connor Panebianco before withstanding a late Broadneck assault on the strength of defense and 13 saves by Casey Fox to defeat the Bruins 10-9, win the 4A East and advance to the state tournament for the fourth year running.
Joey Killpatrick, Tommy Haskell and Kyle Griffith added goals for Severna Park, while Killpatrick added two assists to come out on top of a valiant effort by Broadneck, which got three goals from Bubba Bowen, two goals and three assists by Keegan Houser, two goals by Casey Domanski and two goals and 13 faceoff wins by Vinny Facciponti.
In the end, Severna Park’s defense carried the win: Broadneck had a man-up opportunity with over two minutes left, down a goal at 10-9, but the Falcon D killed the penalty, got the ball back and put the game away.
“In the very end we faced a little adversity,” said Fox. “We had some penalties which led to a little scoring spree by Broadneck. They have some great shooters. They stuck a couple and made it a one-goal game. But in the very end, we had a great game plan, we ended up executing very well, we ended up with the ground ball, and now we’re regional champs.”
Game play was mostly even throughout the first half, with Severna Park holding a slight edge at the midway point, 6-5.
The game-of-runs nature of lacrosse took hold in the third quarter, when Severna Park’s defense shined and its offense continued its strong play. Nifty assists by Maher and Killpatrick helped the Falcons build on their lead, and Killpatrick’s goal late in the third came off a Fox save and clearance to make it a 10-5 advantage. The defense thwarted every Broadneck possession while shutting the Bruins out over the period’s first 11-plus minutes.
Fox, manning the net for most of this season after a knee injury to senior Shane Carr, went through his own knee injury and long recovery over the past 18 months and said he is “delivering for Shane. This is for Shane.” Fox came up with four saves in the period.
It wasn’t until the closing seconds of the third that Broadneck got its first goal of the half, an unassisted score by Bowen that pulled the Bruins to within 10-6 to start the fourth.
The script flipped for the final frame: Severna Park’ defense worked doggedly through long Bruin possessions, coming up with several stops, but Broadneck chipped away at the lead like a steadily rising tide—a tide aided by Severna Park penalties. Goals by Houser, Domanski and Houser again set up the game’s final minutes with Severna Park leading, 10-9, and a tripping penalty gave Broadneck a man advantage. A Bruin equalizer seemed all but certain.
That’s when the Falcons came up with the biggest stand of the season. The defense killed off the penalty, occupying another minute of clock, then forced Broadneck to scan the perimeter searching for a seam. When the Bruins thought they had one found on a cutter in front of the goal, the defense collapsed, and junior Trent Bellotte was there to make a play.
“I knew the guy on the crease was going to get the ball, so I checked down on him,” said Bellotte. “The ground ball was right there, and I got it. I knew I had to get it to my goalie, because there was a lot of pressure on me.”
Bellotte emerged from the cluster and flung the ball behind net to Fox. As he had many times over the course of the evening, Fox released the ball swiftly to his midfielders, who sped through a desperate barrage of stick checks to advance it to the offense. Broadneck frantically tried to dispossess, earning an offside penalty and another illegal check penalty. Harmeyer wound down the final seconds to the final buzzer, and the Falcons came charging off their bench in a team-wide embrace, states-bound for the fourth year in a row.
“We really executed, getting ground balls and getting to our spots on the clear,” said Bellotte. “It’s just the little things that make everything bigger.”
The Falcons will try to go big or go home this Saturday. Severna Park will square off with Churchill, 4A West champs after a 6-5 OT win over Richard Montgomery, in the state semifinals at Gaithersburg High School at high noon. The Falcons defeated the Bulldogs in thrilling fashion in last year’s title game on Harmeyer’s overtime goal and in the 2017 state final on Jack Thomas’s last second goal. Severna Park is gunning for its fourth consecutive state championship.