Mount Hebron's boys and girls lacrosse teams took different routes Friday in their Class 1A/2A Region I semifinal games against Glenelg, but both Hebron teams arrived at the same destination.
They are one step closer to a state championship.
Hebron's top-seeded boys controlled fourth-seeded Glenelg, but had to overcome a 2-0 deficit, a shooting slump and an excellent performance by Glenelg goalie Craig Flury to defeat the Gladiators, 10-5.
The top-seeded girls had no such problems with Glenelg. The Vikings pounced on the Gladiators with five unanswered goals in the first five minutes, stretched their lead to 15-4 at halftime, then cruised to a 20-7 victory.
Hebron will host both regional finals Tuesday against opponents that had yet to be determined by The Howard County Sun's deadline.
Mount Hebron's boys, who are out to defend their 2A title, spotted Glenelg a 2-0 lead midway through the first quarter, before the Vikings (12-2) woke up and began to take over the game.
By halftime, Hebron had regained a 5-3 lead it would not relinquish. But the Vikings went into intermission frustrated by errant shots and some terrific stickwork by Flury in goal. His 15-save effort included 10 in a sensational first half.
Hebron outshot Glenelg by a whopping 43-15, including 26-9 in the first half.
"It wasn't us. It was Flury," said Hebron coach Warren Michael. "I told the guys at halftime that it was just a matter of time. He couldn't keep saving them."
And yet, Flury and Glenelg's sagging defense continued to thwart the Vikings. In the third period, Hebron enjoyed more than nine minutes of possession but came away 0-for-7 on shot attempts. Amazingly, heading into the fourth period, Glenelg had scored only one goal in 25 minutes, yet still only trailed, 5-3.
Then, the Gladiators finally cracked. Clay Shiflett's fast-break goal 19 seconds into the quarter ignited a five-goal outburst that put the Gladiators away. Glenelg scored two goals in the final minute against the Vikings second-team defense.
"He [Flury] was playing well, but we weren't concentrating, especially in the beginning," said Hebron senior midfielder Jason Vettori, who led the Vikings with three goals and two assists. "I was frustrated. I was getting shots off, but I wasn't really having an effect on the game for a while. Our defense kept coming up great."
And it was Vettori who sparked Hebron's sluggish offense early. After Dusty Heusser (two goals) and Andy Leedom gave Glenelg (8-6) its 2-0 advantage -- both goals coming in extra man situations -- Vettori turned a feed from Tom Huppman into the Vikings' first goal with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
Vettori won the ensuing faceoff and found Shiflett (two goals, one assist) wide open. His 15-yard shot flew past Flury's stick. In 10 seconds, the Vikings had evened the score. Hebron then took three more wide shots before converting one of the game's critical goals.
With two seconds left in the period, attackman Andrew Ward cut into the middle between two defenders and, as he was falling to the soggy turf, bounced a shot past Flury to give Hebron a 3-2 lead.
Flury was superb in the second quarter, when the Vikings bombarded him to no avail. Hebron also did the Gladiators a favor by botching a one-on-one, fast-break opportunity, as Andrew Ballinger's shot hit the right pipe. Glenelg's John Schulze evened the score at 3-3 with 3:33 left in the half, while Vettori sat in the penalty box. But that would be the last Glenelg goal until the outcome had been decided two periods later.
Huppman and Vettori scored to give Hebron its 5-3 lead at halftime, and in the fourth quarter, Shiflett, Vettori, Doug Smith and Scott Savage scored unanswered goals in the first five minutes to silence the Gladiators.
In the girls game, the Vikings extended their perfect record to 14-0 and kept their sights trained on their first state title with another early knockout.
Seven Hebron players scored, led by Lori Pasquantonio (six goals, one assist) and Andrea Cuzmanes (four goals). Megan Drake had two goals and an assist. Cathy Nelson added three goals and four assists. Amy Fine and Erin McGinnis added two goals each.
Hebron, which passed and caught the ball flawlessly and put relentless pressure on Glenelg's attack, put the Gladiators away with a 15-for-18 shooting exhibition in the first half.
"We didn't have a lot of assists, because they [Glenelg] kept letting us go to the goal," said Hebron coach P.J. Kesmodel. "We were literally scoring at will."
Cuzmanes got the shot parade rolling with a goal 18 seconds into the game. A minute later, Pasquantonio scored. Drake, Fine and Pasquantonio then scored to make it 5-0 barely five minutes into the game. Amy Dutra (two goals) got Glenelg on the board with 19:28 left in the half. From there, the Vikings went on a 10-3 run.
"We go into every game thinking we are going to lose. That keeps us working hard," said Cuzmanes, the Vikings' four-year starter who is winding up a great career as Hebron's center. "This is the fastest team we've had, and we've got the best midfield we've ever had. In the past, we've only had one or two big scorers. Now we've got five."
Cuzmanes and the Vikings are eyeing a showdown with undefeated, top-ranked Loch Raven (Baltimore County), whom the Vikings hope to see in the 2A finals. For the past two years, Loch Raven has eliminated Hebron in the state semifinals.
"My goal is to beat Loch Raven. That's all I want to do. That's all I've thought about since last year," Cuzmanes said.
"The thing I've been hearing for the last three years is, 'We'll do it next year.' I'm not going to be here next year."