CATONSVILLE -- For the first time in 15 public school victories this year, Broadneck's boys lacrosse team was in a battle down to the final few seconds.
The Bruins edged a youthful North County squad, 6-5, in Saturday's Class 4A-3A state semifinal at UMBC stadium.
Broadneck had handled the Knights easily, 14-5, on April 28, but this time the Bruins had to hold on to the ball over the game's final 15 seconds to win their eighth straight game.
"Our defense has been solid all year, but today we let them dictate the pace," said Coach Clay White, whose top-seeded Bruins (15-2) return to UMBC tomorrow to face three-time state champion Dulaney (12-1) in the championship game.
In Dulaney, a 12-7 semifinal winner over Howard County's Centennial (12-3), the Bruins will face a high-powered, fast-paced offense, led by Brad Berzins (40 goals, 35 assists), Mason Ray (31, 28), Matt Steil (28, 21) and Greg Ponzoli (26, 37).
"That's more our style. I really like the pace of the game Dulaney plays, said White, whose Bruins won the 1987 Class A state-regional title.
"Offensively, today we weren't finishing well inside," he said. "We just let [North County] slow down too much."
"That was our game plan," said North County coach Paul Shea. "We thought if we could hold their scoring down we could be in the ballgame, but we weren't connecting on [extra-man opportunities]." The Knights were 1-for-7 in those situations.
The Knights (11-6) trailed just 1-0 after the first period and 3-1 at the half, despite being out-shot, 15-5.
Led by scoring leader Greg Jackson (two goals, two assists), Steve Bruso with a goal and an assist, and a goal each from Mike Fellona and Jason Hull, the Bruins led, 5-3, after three periods.
Alex Irmler led a defense that held the Knights' top scorer, Greg Sabo (34 goals, 33 assists) to one assist.
Broadneck, which out-shot the Knights, 26-13, overall, opened the fourth quarter with a spectacular four-pass relay, culminating with a David Weinrich-to-Neil Jackson feed that gave the Bruins their biggest lead, 6-3.
The rest of the quarter belonged to the Knights, though the Bruins won all four faceoffs.
With 3:40 remaining, North County freshman Ian Stevenson (26 goals) earned his sixth assist of the year, threading a pass to Andy Mocarsky (31 goals, 40 assists), who tallied his second goal of the game to bring the Knights to within 6-4.
Less than a minute later, Stevenson drew Broadneck's defense to the right, but his blistering pass bounced off Mocarsky's chest as Mocarsky stood about three feet from keeper Sam Peterson (two saves). And with two minutes remaining, Peterson -- who allows an average of just four goals a game -- deflected Mocarsky's point-blank attempt.
"They fed it to the middle of the crease quickly, and I was just trying to get in position," said Peterson. "Luckily, it hit off of my glove."
The next volley got by Peterson to cut Broadneck's lead to 6-5. North County's Andy Ross (31 goals, 22 assists) notched his second goal of the day on an extra-man situation with 15 seconds left, but Bruso won the faceoff and possession as time ran out on the Knights.
"I thought we did everything we could -- except win," said Ross, whose first goal tied the game at one in the second period.
Mocarsky fed Bristol Simmons early in the third period to cut the deficit to 3-2, but the Bruins had a two-goal cushion to start the final period.
"I honestly feel we gave every ounce of what we had today," said Shea, who returned just four starters -- one senior -- from last year's 15-2 Class 4A-3A state runner-up squad.
"We're walking off of the field with nothing left, but we're proud of how we played."