Glenelg Coach Josh Hatmaker readily acknowledged that his team didn’t play its best in Tuesday’s 5-4 win against Patterson Mill. Turnovers and missed opportunities around the net kept the Gladiators’ offense from reaching full stride in the Maryland 2A/1A boys’ lacrosse state final at UMBC.

But afterward, Hatmaker, seated a few feet away from the championship trophy in the Retriever Stadium interview room, wouldn’t let the details get in the way of celebrating his team’s third state title in five seasons.

Senior John Milani and freshman Mikey Wynne each scored twice in the second half and ninth-ranked Glenelg held off the Huskies’ late rally to gut out the victory.

“They really stuck together,” Hatmaker said. “I was telling one of the parents, ‘It doesn’t say ugly on the banner. It just says champion.’ These kids played their butts off.”

The Gladiators spent much of the first half on offense in slick conditions but settled for a 1-1 tie going into halftime, clearly frustrated with their effort. True to form during its 19-game season-closing winning streak, Glenelg (19-1) saved its best play for the second half.

“We’ve had a lot of slow starts in big games,” senior defenseman Austin McWethy said. “We really trusted that if we get our offense the ball as much as we can, they’re going to put the ball in the net. They’ve done it all year.”

The Gladiators, who lost a late lead in last season’s state final loss to Queen Anne’s, pulled away in the second half, then held on late.

A pair of quick two-goal bursts helped them take control, capped by Wynne’s goal with 4:54 left in regulation that made it 5-2. But Patterson Mill kept charging, pulling to within one on Josh Wilson’s tally with 19 seconds remaining.

Sophomore Anthony Pagnotta (11 of 13 faceoffs) clinched the title on the ensuing faceoff by continuing his dominance. He scooped up the loose ground ball himself and fed it to Wynne to run out the clock and kick off the Gladiators’ celebration.

Glenelg’s five goals tied for the lowest winning score in a Maryland boys’ state final in any classification, dating back to 1990. But Hatmaker wouldn’t have expected anything else from a young group that kept surprising throughout the season.

“Our kids have been in these type of games all year long,” Hatmaker said. “It’s that type of team. They’re gutsy kids.”

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