ELDERSBURG -- At the start of Friday's boys lacrosse region playoff game, neither Liberty nor Hammond knew much about the other.
But by the end of the night, the teams knew each other almost like brothers.
It was the kind of game that makes coaches say, "It's a shame someone had to lose tonight," and Hammond coach Bill Smith said just that.
Hammond's Mike Sargent scored 1:40 into sudden death to lift the visiting Golden Bears to a 10-9 win over Liberty in a Class 1A/2A Region I semifinal contest.
Third-seeded Hammond advances to the region finals against Mount Hebron -- 10-5 winners over Glenelg on Friday -- while Liberty finished its season at 9-4.
"They [Liberty] played great defense all night long and just wouldn't quit," Smith said.
Bill Reigel's goal with 31 seconds left in regulation knotted the score for Liberty and sent the game into overtime. That set the stage for heroics from Sargent, who took a feed from Keith Chance and sent a rocket past Liberty goalie Jon Conrey.
"They [Liberty] did a good job shutting off our two big guys -- Tommy [Lea] and Keith [Chance], so I told the two not to try to do too much and it should open things up for some others -- and that's what happened," Smith said.
The two did end up getting their share by the end of the night. Lea finished with two goals and two assists, while Chance had two assists, including the assist on the overtime goal.
The Lions played catch-up most of the night.
Visiting Hammond built a 4-1 lead midway through the second quarter, only to see Liberty score four unanswered goals to take a 5-4 halftime lead.
"I was real happy with the way the kids came back," Liberty
coach Jim Langrall said.
"At halftime, I congratulated them on coming back like that, but told them they still had 20 minutes left."
The Lions could have led by more going into the half, but Hammond goalie Brian Teirrin came up big early and late in the half. He also made key saves in the second half.
"He's [Teirrin] never played the game until this year and he's a senior," Smith said.
"He kept us in the game early and at the end of the game as well. He's a big-time athlete."
A key sequence came early in the third, after Liberty's second-quarter barrage. Hammond's Sargent scored 35 seconds into the quarter to quickly tie the score. Eric Brown scored at the 7:15 mark to give Hammond a 6-5 lead.
Roman Geiser tied it for the Lions with 2:47 left in the quarter, but the Golden Bears quickly regained the one-goal margin 30 seconds later on Jesse Adami's second goal of the night.
Hammond twice took two-goal leads in the fourth, only to see Liberty rally to tie and send the game into overtime.
"It was a pretty good game to watch," Langrall said.
"Hammond played a fine game and really moved the ball around well. It's tough to lose in overtime like that. We would have liked to have reached the second round of the playoffs, especially for our seniors. It's something Liberty hasn't done for some time, but it wasn't to be.
"I'm happy with our season, and we'll just have to look at the positives."