Charged with setting the tone in Friday’s Howard County boys’ lacrosse matchup with unbeaten Mount Hebron, Glenelg senior Anthony Pagnotta marched to the faceoff X and proceeded to show what a difference he can make.
Coach Josh Hatmaker believes Pagnotta could be among the team’s leading scorers if he ran with the first midfield line, but the coach prefers to keep the Towson recruit fresh for an unglamorous job that can pay serious dividends.
On Friday, Pagnotta found a way to keep feeding an offense hitting on all cylinders. He won seven of the first eight faceoffs, including one that set up his first-quarter goal, and 17 of 21 in all as the Gladiators rolled to a 15-6 win in a Howard County showdown at Western Regional Park in Woodbine.
The victory left Glenelg alone atop the Howard County standings and marked its 52nd straight win against county opponents dating from 2009.
“Sometimes it’s not even fair,” Hatmaker said of Pagnotta’s dominance. “I hate to use that term, but it’s demoralizing. I’ve had it happen to me before in the past before I got him.”
Mount Hebron (9-1, 6-1) came into the game with high hopes for loosening Glenelg’s years-long stranglehold on the county race. The Vikings hadn’t trailed by more than a goal at any point this season, but with Pagnotta earning possession after possession, the Gladiators (7-2, 6-0) took advantage to quickly turn the highly anticipated showdown into a blowout.
After Mount Hebron tied the game at 1-1, Pagnotta won the ensuing faceoff and raced down to score 11 seconds later, providing the goal that sparked a run of 14 unanswered tallies for the Gladiators.
“You can’t let down,” said Pagnotta, who also plays offense in extra-man situations. “You can’t let the [county winning] streak end now.”
Junior Luke Cheswick scored three of his game-high five goals consecutively in the second quarter. The midfielder kept making timely cuts and was often rewarded with open looks around the cage.
Cheswick’s final goal with 3 minutes 49 seconds left in the third quarter stretched the lead to 13-1 and triggered a running clock.
The Gladiators led by 14 late in the period before the Vikings scored the final five goals.
“They totally outplayed us,” said Mount Hebron Coach Mike McCarthy. “We just kinda looked like we were sleepwalking. . . . We knew they wouldn’t give us anything, and they proved it. We didn’t show up today.”
The contest was delayed for about 25 minutes with 2:09 left in the first half after Mount Hebron freshman defenseman Matt Leone absorbed an illegal high hit that drew a three-minute penalty.
Leone was transported from the field on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to Howard County General Hospital for further evaluation of his head and neck, according to McCarthy.