For an undefeated group, the Arundel boys’ lacrosse team was in somewhat of a unique situation coming into its April 26 matchup with reigning state champion South River.
On the one hand, the Wildcats held an 11-0 overall record and stood alone as the only county team undefeated overall.
On the other hand, the Wildcats’ schedule was back-loaded with their three toughest opponents – South River, Chesapeake and Severna Park. One could say the Wildcats still had to prove their hot start was not simply an aberration.
The results are in: Arundel’s for real.
Though the Wildcats fell by a score of 10-6 to the Seahawks, they rebounded to thump Chesapeake, 13-7, on May 1, then went on to clip Severna Park in a 7-6, Friday-night thriller on the Falcons’ home field. The final two wins against the Cougars and Falcons sealed Arundel’s spot in the May 6 county championship against the Seahawks and wiped away any possible doubt about the Wildcats’ authenticity as a legitimate region contender.
Arundel’s win over Chesapeake gave the Cougars their second county loss and effectively eliminated them from county contention. Enjoying their senior night, the Wildcats simply overpowered Chesapeake, getting four goals from Logan Fate, three from Tyler Young, two from Cam Cetrone and one apiece from Billy Nolan, Jeremy Sullivan, Evan Jones and Aaron Snyder. Brett Malamphy continued his year-long domination of the faceoff circle, taking 15 of 22 from Chesapeake’s Matt Michalski, who has been first in line as the county’s next-best faceoff man this season.
The win over Severna Park was the first time Arundel defeated the Falcons since 2001, and in doing so the Wildcats finished the county schedule 10-1 and punched their ticket to the county title game.
Coach Kevin Necessary said the win over Severna Park – the program’s first in his time as head coach – showed the true character of his team.
“Tonight was about toughness,” said Necessary following the win. “They came out with a refuse-to-lose attitude. I don’t know if we had our sticks like we’ve had them all year, but the only thing you can control in this game is your effort. We talk about that all the time: there’s only one thing that you can really, really control, and that’s how hard you play, and I think they embodied that tonight. They really fought for this one. I’m proud of them. It wasn’t glamorous or pretty, but they really fought for this one.”
Severna Park had done its homework, and the Falcons’ gameplan turned the contest into a gritty defensive battle from the start. The Wildcats trailed 3-1 after the first quarter and 3-2 at the half, having been forced into an uncharacteristically high number of turnovers by the Falcon defense.
But the Wildcats’ defense kept Severna Park in neutral, allowing only three goals after the first quarter. Arundel tied the game at 4-4 by the end of the third and took its first lead of the game on a goal by Young early in the fourth.
From there, the Wildcats never relinquished the lead and outlasted the Falcons to take the win. Young finished with three goals and two assists, while Cetrone, Sullivan, Fate and Logan Hill all added scores. Goalkeeper Andrew Jones came up with eight saves for Arundel in the win.
“They were frustrating us on the offensive side of the ball, and our offense didn’t really know what to do with that at first,” said Young following the game. “But our defense kept us in the game, which they have done in a couple slow starts we’ve had this season.”
While the win was meaningful because of the 12 years that had elapsed since Arundel last defeated Severna Park, Young said the experienced gained is most valuable in the immediate future.
“It’s good for us to face that kind of adversity right before the playoffs start,” said Young.
Senior midfielder Jason Barrett described the win over the Falcons with the kind of jocular straightforward eloquence produced only by male teenagers: “We won this game because the bros stayed positive,” said Barrett, drawing a burst of winning laughter from surrounding teammate bros.
The Wildcats will need the experience of adversity and sustained positivity as they embark on a quest to make it through the 4A East region and into the state tournament. Following the May 6 county championship game against South River, Arundel’s playoff path will likely yield rematches with at least one of South River, Chesapeake and Severna Park.