C. Milton Wright's high-powered offense appeared to be its ticket to a first ever county championship. But goalie Andy Wishart stole the show Friday night.
The senior goalie made 19 saves, many spectacular, in an 8-5 victory over North Harford Friday night at C. Milton Wright. The Hawks' defense, especially goalie Brian Ende with 18 saves, did a good job of holding back the Mustang attack. But the Hawks' offense couldn't put much past Wishart.
"He won the game for 'em. He had to have at least a half dozen one-on-one saves," said North Harford coach John Grubb. Until Friday night, the Hawks had never lost a boys lacrosse game to C. Milton Wright.
The Mustangs (12-1 overall, 6-0 league) knocked off Fallston, 15-6, Wednesday night to force the showdown with North Harford.
Had the Hawks won, all three teams probably would have shared the title. Now, the Mustangs only have to beat Aberdeen in their only remaining regular-season game to seal the county title.
Wishart, whose splendid efforts have often been overshadowed by the high-scoring attack, carried the Mustangs through much of Friday's game. He made six saves against 12 shots in a first half that ended in a 4-4 tie.
Both teams squandered opportunities in the half. C. Milton Wright picked up 8 1/2 minutes of penalties. The Hawks (8-4, 5-2) took advantage of the extra-man situations and scored four first-half goals.
The Hawks scored twice in the final 48 seconds of the quarter to take a 3-2 lead. Chuck Kelly fed John Wright for the first goal.
Mike Minderlein assisted on Bruce Axelsson's quick-stick shot for the second.
Mustangs coach Carl Greenberg said, "Those penalties really hurt us and North Harford handled the midfield. They controlled the ground balls."
C. Milton Wright came back in the second quarter when Corey Lambroff fed Scott Panowitz to tie the game on the Mustangs' first extra-man goal. Brian Moen scored his second unassisted goal of the night for a 4-3 Mustang lead with 4:32 left. But North Harford's Adam Piterra tied the game less than a minute later.
Wishart, with help from defensemen Ryan Arist, Jason Lassahn and Chuck Heinze, shut out the Hawks in the third quarter.
The Mustangs worked their offense well against the Hawks, whose priority was to shut down three of their top scorers.
"We knew we couldn't run with them, because we didn't have as many middies," said Grubb. "We had to slow it down. We knew we had to take [Chris] Lloyd, Moen and Panowitz out of the game, because they're just dynamite. We couldn't let 'em run and gun."
In the third quarter, the Mustangs took the lead for good, 6-4, on a couple of unassisted goals from Panowitz and Lambroff within 49 seconds.
Lloyd, one of the top scorers in the metro area with 60 goals and 11 assists, finally broke loose for two goals in the fourth period.
On Wednesday night, the Mustangs ended the only other unbeaten streak in the county by knocking off Fallston (8-3, 5-1). A Fallston win would have probably have given the title to the Cougars, who have one game remaining against Edgewood.
Fallston stayed with the Mustangs early. But, in the third quarter, the Mustangs exploded for seven unanswered goals in what Greenberg said was their best quarter of the year. C. Milton Wright scored on six of its first seven shots and jumped out to a 13-5 lead with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
"We did a real good job with our ball movement and I can't overemphasize the play of our middies," said Greenberg. "Everybody has been saying they can beat us at the midfield. I think we proved that you can't."
Lloyd scored the first four goals of the third quarter, with two as sists from Lambroff, one from Panowitz and one from Moen.
Wishart had 17 saves for the Mustangs. Lloyd finished with six goals. Moen had two goals and five assists.
Lambroff had four goals.
Brad Baker led Fallston with three goals while Zack Karantonis added two and freshman Todd Paradise, one. Cougars goalie Jamie Auer had 15 saves.