In a wildly entertaining championship showdown jam-packed with sensational lacrosse action at Northeast High School on Monday night, the Arundel boys’ lacrosse team withstood a late South River surge and made every big play down the stretch to seize a 7-6 overtime win and the 2013 Anne Arundel County championship.
Aaron Snyder’s goal 50 seconds into sudden death overtime clinched the county title for Arundel (14-1), which hadn’t beaten South River (12-3) since 2001. The victory gives Arundel its second county championship and first since 1999.
It was South River’s first loss to an Anne Arundel County team since a 5-4 overtime loss to Severna Park on March 23, 2011—more than two full years ago.
Sixth-year Arundel Head Coach Kevin Necessary—who got his first career win over Severna Park last Friday night and made it two career firsts in three days by beating South River—said his Wildcats demonstrated the resilience and determination that has defined their success this season.
“Guts,” said Necessary when asked what stood out most about his team’s performance. “I thought guts. They wouldn’t take no for an answer. They came here to play and they came here to win.”
It was clear from the outset that Arundel was not the same team South River defeated 10-6 just ten days ago. The Wildcats immediately set a physical tone and established their all-out hustle style of play, taking and never quite relinquishing the momentum for the rest of the night. The Seahawks never led.
Midfielder Brett Malamphy won the opening faceoff, and Tyler Young put the Wildcats on the board first with an unassisted crank from the right side after seven minutes. Arundel held the majority of possession in the first period thanks to swarming pursuit of ground balls, a consistent effort they upheld throughout the night.
Snyder got his first goal five minutes into the second quarter after taking a nice feed from Billy Nolan, and after a Logan Fate score the Wildcats held a 3-0 advantage.
Wildcat goalkeeper Andrew Jones registered seven saves in the first half on 14 South River shots, and it wasn’t until there was five minutes remaining until halftime that the Seahawks’ Gunnar Schimolar finally cracked the Wildcat D and put South River on the board.
After trailing 3-1 heading into the break, South River wasted little time scoring in the third quarter. Schimolar found the net less than a minute into the period, getting a nice pass across the crease from Ben Chisolm to pull the Seahawks to within 3-2.
Arundel answered quickly, as Malamphy won the ensuing faceoff to earn the Wildcats a possession that ended in a goal by Nolan just a minute after Schimolar’s.
Minutes later, South River’s Lavon Chaney, always a handful for opposing defenses, worked his options from behind the net, eventually finding a cutting Brandon Senft, who got Jones out of position with a pump fake before pulling out a dazzling behind-the-back shot to score and bring South River to within one at 4-3.
After Cam Cetrone finished a pass by Young to put Arundel up 5-3 at the start of the fourth, a check-to-the-head penalty gave South River an extra man, and Senft found Matt Gaskins in front of the crease to get South River back within one at 5-4.
Jones’ fantastic goalkeeping—he had four of his 12 saves in the fourth quarter—and hounding defense by Nolan, Young, Alex Hanna, Gerald Ringgold and Alex Newman killed the penalty the get the Wildcats back to even strength.
The play of the game to that point—one-upping Senft’s behind-the-back tally—came two minutes later when South River goalie Jake Gavin carried the ball 40 yards out from his net to clear. He picked a pass in the midfield, but Cetrone timed it perfectly, leaping up to intercept the pass. With zero hesitation and an open net over 50 yards away, Cetrone let rip, the crowd exploding in cheer when the ball took one bounce before falling softly into the net to give Arundel a 6-4 lead with 4:25 to play.
Jones made two incredible saves on ensuing South River possessions, but the reigning state champion Seahawks were by no means going quietly into the night. South River continued to work its offense, and Chisolm capitalized on an extra-man situation by converting a pass from Dylan Mansur. One minute later, Chisolm again found the net, whipping home a pass from Chaney to tie the game at 6-6 with 1:46 to play.
Each side got looks in the closing seconds, but Jones came up with a save and Arundel held possession to the whistle, sending the game into sudden death overtime.
Malamphy won the first possession in extra time for Arundel, and Cetrone nearly ended the game with an attempt on goal, but his shot sailed wide. South River retrieved possession but didn’t get a shot off at the other end, and Arundel had another opportunity.
After a Seahawks defenseman jarred the ball loose from the Wildcats and turned upfield to transition, Young chased him down and rode him out on the right sideline to get the ball back for Arundel.
Snyder, seeing his opportunity, took his man one-on-one from the right side before getting on top of Gavin and firing high into the cage to give Arundel the 7-6 win. Helmets and sticks went flying into the air from the Arundel bench, and the Wildcats piled on in front of the goal in celebration of the title.
Fate said the approach this time around was different than when the Wildcats faced the Seahawks less than two weeks ago.
“I think the difference was that in the last game, we came into the game looking to beat South River,” said Fate. “This time we just came in looking to play our best game, Arundel’s best game. Faceless opponent. If we do what we do best and play our game, it didn’t matter who we were playing, we would just get the win.”
While the Wildcats will have plenty of time to savor this win over the summer, Necessary made it abundantly clear that his team’s attention will turn promptly to its first-round playoff game on Wednesday against Annapolis.
“I told them they’ve got 30 minutes on the bus ride home, they can high-five and cheer it up all they want, but as soon as we pull into Arundel, it’s time to focus on Annapolis,” said Necessary. Still, he recognized the accomplishment of knocking off the defending champions in such resilient fashion. “I’m just really proud of my guys,” he said. “It’s all about their hard work and their never-say-die attitude, and the big thing is just the support of each other. You never hear whining or ‘come on’ or anything like that on the sidelines. It’s all, ‘we got this, we got this.’ They’re a pleasure to coach. They make coaching really fun.”
Fate spoke of the team’s close-knit nature as a factor in pulling through for the win and their general success this year.
“Out of every team I’ve been on, this is the closest group of friends,” said Fate. “We’re all really close, we’re laughing with everything we do—sometimes a little too much—and it’s really fun to be on the field with them.”
His expression turned unequivocally serious when asked about the days ahead and the team’s confidence as it enters the region tournament.
“The confidence level is definitely high,” he said. “We just beat the defending state champions, but we’re not going to let that get to our heads. We’re going to get back to work tomorrow and focus on beating Annapolis on Wednesday.”
Full game stats:
Shots: Arundel 26, South River 27; Saves: Arundel (Andrew Jones) 12, South River (Jake Gavin) 5; Faceoffs: Arundel 9, South River 8; Ground balls: Arundel 25, South River 23.