Severna Park 13, Westminster 11
Knowing the Severna Park boys' lacrosse team had lost in the Maryland 4A/3A final in three of the past four seasons, sophomore attack Frank Taglienti made sure the Falcons' recent string of futility on the state's biggest stage ended Wednesday.
Taglienti, the smallest player on the field, seized the spotlight under the hot sun as Severna Park earned a 13-11 victory over previously unbeaten Westminster at UMBC. He had a career-high three goals and two assists to lead the 10th-ranked Falcons to their first state title in five years.
"I sat in the stands and saw Severna Park lose in the state championship game the last two years and it made me want to be part of this team even more so it wouldn't happen again," said the 5-foot-5 Taglienti. "It was just a huge team effort out there and I'm glad I was part of it."
Severna Park's victory enabled the Falcons (16-4) to storm the field at game's end in revelry, which was a stark contrast to their demeanor following their previous three state final appearances. The losses -- all to Dulaney -- were by a combined four goals, including a pair of one-goal losses in each of the past two years. Severna Park defeated Dulaney, 10-9, in a state semifinal Saturday.
"After coming so close, it was a perfect way to end the season and my senior year," Severna Park defender Tommy Zichelli said. "We've been through so much this season, and now we feel what's its like to win the state championship."
After taking a 7-6 lead at intermission, the Anne Arundel County champions took control in the third quarter against the Owls (16-1), who were playing in the state championship game for the first time.
Four Falcons scored in an 8-minute 10-second span to extend their lead to 11-8 entering the final period. Westminster pulled to within two goals twice in the final 7:35, but sophomore goalie Mike Gvozden (18 saves) kept Westminster from getting any closer.
Severna Park had seven players score at least one goal; junior Ben Hunt had three and senior Andrew Lusby added two.
"After all the heartbreak we'd been through, we knew we couldn't let this one get away," Gvozden said.
The biggest surprise came from the Taglienti, who combined his deft passing touch with his accurate shot to emerge as the Falcons' most valuable option.
"I'll tell you what: Frank is not the biggest kid, so he's not going to overpower you, and he's not the fastest player, so he's nor going to run past you, but he's one of our smartest players and he uses it to his advantage," Severna Park Coach Jim Beardmore said. "I think what you saw Frank did had a lot to do with how smart he is."
Note: The 3A/2A boys' final between Centennial and Towson was postponed because of inclement weather and will be held at 6 p.m. today. It will be preceded by the 3A/2A girls' final between Mount Hebron and Catonsville.