The last time the Howard boys’ lacrosse team was this good, none of the current Lions were born yet. But with a 22-1 win over Oakland Mills on Monday followed by a 19-1 win over Hammond Tuesday, the Lions clinched the Howard County title for the first time in 23 years.
“Definitely the last couple years we had the goal of being one of the top teams in the county, something we felt was in our reach, and something that we came up short on last year,” fourth-year Howard Coach Jimmy Creighton said. “Coming into this season, through the offseason, we felt we had a great chance at being one of those top teams in the county and just had to take that next step, which so far we’ve been able to do.”
At 13-0 and largely unchallenged so far this season, Creighton’s emphasis on offseason work and in-season preparation has paid off emphatically. His team is winning by an average of nearly 12 goals per match, and the Lions have yet to concede more than six goals in a game. On average, they allow just over two goals per contest.
“I think that everyone has bought into what our coaches have been saying to us over the past four years,” defenseman Peter Emery said. “When you had seniors with three years with a different coach, that was tough. But now you have seniors four years into this program and juniors three years into this program, we know what our coaches want, we know our expectations, and we know how to get it done now.”
Emery and the defense have allowed a goal or fewer in more than half of the Lions’ games this season. Goalkeeper Bryan Mauser has kept teams out of the net behind a veteran defensive corps that — informed by meticulous film-watching and scouting report studying — anticipates passing lanes before they emerge and takes away opponents’ favorite moves.
“Defense has been really solid,” Emery said. “Our offense and defense have played really well together, because the defense has been pushing transition and the offense has been keeping possession time.”
Another key for the Lions is faceoff man John Travisano, a dominant force at the X who is committed to Notre Dame. More offensive possessions means less work for the Howard defense, keeping Lions defenders fresh when it counts.
“Our whole defense has stepped up,” Travisano said. “We’ve been holding teams to close to nothing, and part of that is that we returned our whole defense, but they’ve been stepping up, and we credit a lot of our wins to them.”
In a loaded Loudoun County lacrosse scene, where teams like Woodgrove (8-2), Dominion (6-4), and Loudoun Valley (7-3) beat up on one another for the top spot year in and year out, the Loudoun County Raiders hope they can survive the regular-season scrum to make a serious playoff run.
After emerging unscathed through the early part of a backloaded regular-season schedule, the Raiders (10-0) met their first in-county challenger of the season in Woodgrove Monday in a drenching rain in Leesburg.
After Woodgrove washed away an early lead with a second-half comeback that could have doomed the Raiders, Loudoun County fought back. Shane Curtis tied the game with five minutes to play, then Noah Dewey scored two goals in 12 seconds to knock out Woodgrove for good. That win came a few days after the Raiders trailed 6A contender Westfield by five goals and rallied to win. Those two victories send the Raiders into their final four games — two of which come against Loudoun Valley and Dominion — as one of two remaining unbeaten teams in Northern Virginia (No. 10 South County is the other).
“We have a good group of returners, but more than that it’s what they’re made of, it’s their mentality. They play together, they take charge, they have an internal drive” Loudoun County Coach Dave Colangelo said. “Adversity does not phase them. They don’t turn on each other, they stay up, so the credit goes 100 percent to the players and their preparation and their personalities.”
Gonzaga clinched the WCAC regular season title with an 8-7 win over DeMatha Tuesday. . . . St. John’s pushed Landon to overtime in an eventual 12-11 Bears win, which Landon followed with a 10-8 victory over No. 5 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes and a 17-10 win over Churchill. . . . St. Mary’s-Annapolis’s 11-2 win over Loyola Blakefield last week pushed the Saints into position for the sixth and final MIAA playoff spot. They wrap up the regular season with Severn and Mount St. Joseph, two teams trailing them in the standings.
1. Georgetown Prep (16-0) LW: 1
2. Gonzaga (13-5) LW: 2
3. Landon (15-3) LW: 3
4. DeMatha (14-3) LW: 4
5. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (11-5) LW: 5
6. St. Mary’s-Annapolis (9-5) LW: 6
7. Howard (13-0) LW: 7
8. Arundel (11-1) LW: 8
9. Wootton (11-0) LW: 10
10. South County (11-0) LW: 9