Linganore crashed the party at the Maryland boys’ lacrosse playoffs last spring, becoming the first Frederick County team to take home a state title. With the thrilling 13-12 win over South River in the 4A/3A final, the Lancers instantly earned a new place in the discussion about the state’s best programs — and the expectations that come along with it.
“It’s pressure that we’re glad to have,” Coach Rich Thompson said. “We’re not going to sneak up on anybody, ever because of that [state champion] label. Now we have to work even harder to prove that it wasn’t just a one-time thing.”
One month into its repeat bid, Linganore continues to grow into the role of favorite. After Tuesday’s 11-7 home loss against Westminster, the Lancers are 6-2 and still building toward the form that delivered 15 straight wins to close last season.
Linganore brought back 18 of 30 players off last season’s squad but had to replace second-team All-Met Michael Kenski, who scored the game-winning goal in the state final, and Alex Daly, one of the area’s top face-off men. While those departures have left plenty of minutes for newcomers, Thompson said the transition has been eased by the fact that most of them saw at least some varsity action during last season’s run.
Seniors Alex Rice, Tyler Thompson lead this year’s Lancers offensively, with senior goalie R.J. Tischler returning to anchor the defense.
Rice, a quick 5-foot-6 attackman, scored five goals in last season’s final, while Thompson, who will play football at Monmouth next fall, offers a physical presence around the goal. Tischler (Swarthmore) had not allowed more than six goals in a game this season before Tuesday’s loss.
Even the coaches are adjusting to slightly different roles. Last season Stan Aldridge handled head coaching duties with Thompson as an assistant. The Lancers returned the same staff this season, but Aldridge, whose son Matt graduated last spring, switched titles with Thompson.
“It’s always a challenge to live up to expectations after a season like we had last year,” Thompson said. “We’ve had our struggles, but we’re starting to gel a little bit more as a team.” ....
As the Interstate Athletic Conference regular season rolls into its final two weeks, No. 5 Bullis (9-3, 2-0) stands as the only team without a conference loss. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight overall, including their first win in program history over No. 6 Landon on April 5. Landon (7-5, 1-1), No. 2 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (10-2, 1-1) and No. 7 Georgetown Prep (10-4, 2-1) each have one loss in IAC play.
For most of the league’s history, finishing with the best regular season record assured at least a partial share of the title, but last season the rule was changed to award the crown outright to the tournament winner. Even though Landon had a perfect regular season in conference, third-seeded Georgetown Prep took the title when it upset the Bears in the tournament final.