Traditionally, Glenelg boys’ lacrosse Coach Josh Hatmaker awards a game ball in each victorious postgame huddle. When the Gladiators joyfully dispersed following Friday’s 10-9 comeback victory over Kent Island in a Maryland 3A/2A state semifinal at Annapolis, the coach still clutched the ball he’d earmarked for the game’s most valuable player in his right hand.
“I might have to wait and give out 35 of these at the end of the season,” Hatmaker said.
Ninth-ranked Glenelg fell into a three-goal hole with less than three minutes left.
And it took a full team effort to erase the deficit with a thrilling rally to clinch a state final berth for the sixth time in seven seasons.
The Gladiators closed with four straight goals and took the lead on junior Nick Forrest’s goal with 22 seconds remaining. They will meet North Region champ Hereford in next week’s Maryland 3A/2A final at UMBC. It’s a rematch of last spring’s title game won by the Bulls.
“We didn’t want our season to end there,” said Forrest, who finished with four goals and two assists. “We wanted to keep going.”
Kent Island (14-2) took a 9-6 lead on junior Pat Garvey’s goal with 6 minutes 44 seconds left and showed no signs of slowing down.
But goalie Landry Marshall (15 saves) made three stops before the Gladiators (16-2) launched their comeback.
After 45 minutes of mostly sloppy play, the Howard County champions were near perfect from there. Sophomore Kevin Coppinger and senior Christian Salandra scored 10 seconds apart to swing momentum before Forrest’s man-up goal tied it with 1:44 left.
Senior Anthony Pagnotta won the ensuing faceoff, and Forrest came through again, tucking a shot on the run into the bottom left corner of the net.
The 5-foot-9 attackman has provided the Glenelg offense a consistent spark this spring with a team-best 53 goals. But in the minutes after Friday’s win, he already had no doubt where the latest ranks among them.
“I think that’s the biggest goal I’ve ever scored in my whole life,” Forrest said. “That’s incredible.”
Midway through the second half of Friday’s Maryland 3A/2A state semifinal against Queen Anne’s County (16-1-1), the team’s offense had bogged down. Stukenberg soon found the fix with a well-timed pass to freshman Lexi Souder.
In No. 4 Marriotts Ridge’s 13-5 victory, Stukenberg scored five goals and assisted three more, including the nifty pass that set up Souder’s only tally. The All-Met midfielder helped the Mustangs (17-1) earn a berth in next week’s Maryland 3A/2A final at UMBC.
Marriotts Ridge will face six-time state champ Century, its opponent when it claimed its state title in 2011.
“Obviously, not many people can keep up with her when she wants to go, but Zoe’s done a really good job of making sure that she’s helping everybody else step up, too,” Coach Natalie Gaieski said. “If she doesn’t have it, she’s not going to force it.”
Stukenberg wasted little time, scoring on the game’s opening possession to ensure Marriotts Ridge (17-1) never trailed. Senior Taylor Hensh added all three of her goals in the first half to extend the cushion, and previously unbeaten Queen Anne’s County (16-1-1) never trimmed the lead to fewer than six goals in the second half, even with the Mustangs’ long scoreless drought in the middle.
After being upset by rival Mount Hebron in the region playoffs last spring, Marriotts Ridge has found plenty of motivation for this playoff run. The Mustangs head into the final perfect against local competition with their lone loss against Baltimore private school power McDonogh, the consensus No. 1 team in the country.
“Last year, missing out on this whole final four experience definitely stung,” said Stukenberg, who will play at Maryland. “It just feels good to be back and come out and perform well.”