Kevin Buckley is excited, and the veteran Northeast boys lacrosse coach has a right to be.
His Class 2A Eagles defeated Annapolis (3-7) for the first time in school history this spring, 8-6, and Friday night knocked off Class 3A South River, 8-7.
"Things are going well at Northeast," said Buckley on the 24-HourSportsline (647-2499) after the victory over South River (7-4).
"It was a great win, and we're 6-6 now, and we keep beating some really tough teams. South River was certainly the best team we've beaten all year," Buckley said.
"Last year, they beat us, 12-2, and we haven't beaten them in a good number of years, so it's a very sweet victory for us."
South River had a 6-5 lead late in the final period when Northeast freshman Jeremiah David knotted the score at six. That was the second of four fourth-period goals by the Eagles.
Senior Charles Hoffman's second goal of the night with about four minutes to go put the Eagles up, 7-6. Hoffman was assisted by senior midfielder Dave Fronckoski, who had a game-high six assists.
Less than a minute later, senior Tony Petraglia notched his third goal of the night for an 8-6 lead.
"On the day he learned that he had received a ride(partial scholarship) to UMBC, Steve Gorski had another usual great game with 19 saves," said Buckley.
Buckley contends that Gorski isthe best goalie in the county among several outstanding keepers, including Severn's Court Durling and St. Mary's Jim Brown. Whether he isthe best or not, there is no question that Gorski's play in the cagehas put the Eagles on the path to the Class 2A playoffs.
But success has come the way of the Eagles because Gorski is getting help. Petraglia and Fronckoski have taken a lot of pressure off the Eagle keeper this season by scoring or assisting on goals.
Last season, theEagles lacked offensive firepower, going 3-9 overall with seven of the losses coming by two goals or less. Gorski's acrobatic and instinctive play in the cage kept those games close.
Thus far this spring, it's the same outstanding play from Gorski and some offensive punch, too. The result has been a very successful season while playing arguably the toughest lacrosse schedule in school history.
The so-called Friendship and Bay Division alignments have forced Buckley's Eagles to play all 10 Class 4A schools.
No matter what happens in the final two regular-season games -- Arundel (3-7) at home tomorrow and at 4A Region IV leader Broadneck (9-2) on Friday -- this has been thefinest season for the Eagles since 1985.
Northeast posted its last winning season (10-6) in 1985. The Eagles lost in the state Class B(now 2A) final, 8-7, to Fallston of Harford County in what was Buckley's third year at the helm.
The following year, Northeast slippedto 5-9 before beginning a string of four consecutive 7-7 seasons that ended last spring when they went 3-9.
Never before this season have the Eagles played so many Class 4A teams, and the way they have responded has been amazing. Their chances in the 2A-1A playoffs get better with each passing game.
Southern is the county's only other Class 2A school, and the Dawgs start this week under rookie coach Jon Braun at 6-3. The Dawgs' final three games will be no day at the beach. They visit South River (7-4) tomorrow and play host to North County (7-3) on Friday and Broadneck (9-2) May 5.
With Northeast and Southern basically playing Class 4A schedules and more than holding their own, it will be interesting to see how much it helps when they getto postseason.
A team accustomed to making postseason play, but in danger of not qualifying for a fifth straight year is Dan Hart's Class 4A Annapolis Panthers. It's wild how one win during a "down" yearcan turn a team's thinking from negative to positive.
"I don't think we can be counted out yet," said Annapolis assistant Bob Glassmanafter the Panthers downed Chesapeake, 8-4, Friday night to improve to 3-7.
"We feel we're still in the hunt for that fourth playoff spot. We have four games to go, and we expect to be there at the end."
To be there, the Panthers will have to win all four games. When you consider the four opponents -- Queen Anne's (0-6), Old Mill (3-5), Glen Burnie (0-10) and Meade (3-5) -- it is not out of the realm of possibility.
Yes, Annapolis may be there with Broadneck, Severna Park and North County.
The county's fiercest rivalry in boys lacrosse was renewed Saturday at Weems Whelan in Annapolis with Severn School (9-4) edging host St. Mary's (5-6), 9-7. Johns Hopkins-bound midfielder Milford Marchant scored five goals to keep the Admirals' Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference playoff hopes alive.
St. Mary's (3-6 in the conference) all but had its playoff hopes extinguished. The Saints, who trail second-place Calvert Hall in Division II by three games with four to go, need a major miracle.