The Howard sideline was relaxed in the final minutes of the Maryland 4A boys’ lacrosse semifinals. With the mercy rule in effect for the entire fourth quarter, the Lions joked while most of their players got the opportunity to play.
The Lions had plenty of reason to smile Saturday: Their 15-2 defeat of Bowie at Gaithersburg High School advanced them to the state final for the second time in four years. They will face three-time defending state champion Severna Park at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Paint Branch High School.
It was a Howard show from the opening faceoff. Junior Jeff Bruner scored 23 seconds into the game and the scoring burst never stopped. The Lions (13-5) scored the game’s first 12 goals and held Bowie without a shot in that span.
“It’s been the championship approach for the whole playoffs,” junior Colin Sutch said. “That’s what’s been clicking for us.”
The run was highlighted by a transition goal in the second quarter created when senior Marc Gildersleeve intercepted a pass and ran a 4-on-3 fast break. All four Howard players touched the ball before it found Sutch, who stood alone by the crease and finished the play with 8:41 left in the first half.
“We weren’t forcing at the crease,” senior Ben Stephanos said. “We were able to work the ball around to create opportunities on the crease.”
The Lions assisted on 13 of their 15 goals. Sutch finished with four goals and three assists and Bruner added three goals and three assists.
Senior Rashashim Gafney and freshman Kai Cooper scored in the second half for Bowie (14-2).
Several Howard coaches remained to watch the second game of the doubleheader between Severna Park and Churchill. The two teams met for the fourth consecutive year in the playoffs, all in the state semifinals or finals. Severna Park continued the winning streak with a 12-4 victory.
No. 4 Severna Park (18-1) escaped in each of the past two seasons with a one-goal win, including in overtime last year, to clinch the state crown. But this year, it didn’t have to wait until the final second to breathe a sigh of relief.
Severna Park held the Bulldogs (12-6) scoreless until 1:28 remained in the second quarter while it scored six straight goals, two of them by junior Michael Harmeyer .
“We always love to start off hot,” said junior Connor Panebianco, who had four goals and two assists. “Those six goals made us feel comfortable.”
The Falcons pounded six more goals to finish the game. Harmeyer finished with five goals. Senior Jimmy Maher had four assists.
“There’s pressure to win, but it’s what we want. It’s a goal we set out every single year,” Harmeyer said. “We know we what we want to accomplish. The bar’s set pretty high at Severna Park.”
Glenelg took down Hereford, 12-7, in the Maryland 2A semifinals in Pasadena . The Gladiators (12-6) got three goals from sophomore Kevin Doughty and never trailed. They will play Century in the 2A final at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In the Maryland 3A semifinals, Northern (18-1) beat Towson, 12-4, in Ellicott City. The Patriots got off to a fast start and led 9-1 at the half. Northern will play Westminster at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a rematch of last year’s championship game, which Westminster won.
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes captured its third Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament title in four years, beating Paul VI, 10-5, in Ashland. It is the school’s seventh VISAA title this decade.