Several minutes after he carried the Leonardtown boys' lacrosse team to an appearance in the Maryland 3A/2A East Region championship game, senior Mike Hamlet sat on the grass of the Raiders' home field and stared straight ahead, still totally exhausted, with his right ankle wrapped in ice.
"I just gave it 110 percent today," Hamlet said.
Hamlet had three key goals to spark the Raiders to an 11-6 win over visiting Stephen Decatur in Monday afternoon's region semifinal game. For the first time in three years, the Raiders advanced to the region final, where they played Northeast on Wednesday in a game that ended too late to be included in this story.
Brian Verbik added three goals, and Neal McKinney had two, to lead the Raiders (12-2). David Kamm had a goal and three assists, while Brian Wettengal had a goal and an assist.
Leonardtown overcame an early deficit, and after the first quarter the Raiders never led by fewer than two goals.
"We knew we had to play our best against them," Hamlet said. "We were ready for the challenge."
While McKinney, the Raiders' top scorer this season, struggled for the first half of the game, Hamlet scored the first two goals to spark the Raiders to a 5-2 lead. After Decatur scored the first goal of the second half, Hamlet's third goal proved to be a pivotal moment.
Hamlet stole a clearing pass, raced up field and scored in transition for a 6-3 lead. By the end of the game, McKinney had reemerged, with two nice goals, and the Raiders cruised to the win.
The fine performance was a nice late chapter in the career of Hamlet, who began as a defenseman before switching to attack after the start of this season to fill in for some injured players.
Hamlet said he doesn't see himself as the go-to offensive player, but he decided to do what he could when the team needed it Monday.
"Mike was the X-factor today," Coach Mike Loughran said. "They had done their research, they knew who our scorers were. We needed someone else to step up, and Mike did a great job."
Defensively, junior goalkeeper Steven Boas keyed a strong performance with several big saves that helped preserve the Raiders' lead. Decatur had only two goals in the first half.
Boas said he benefits from busy practices as Leonardtown's only goalkeeper. When he's not taking practice shots from the coaching staff, he is manning the cage against his teammates.
"My coaches get me really ready to play," Boas said, "and I think it really helps me in the games."