Kellinger saves day, game for Centennial

Three late stances lead to 9-7 upset of Towson for state championship

Class 3A-2A boys lacrosse

High Schools

May 28, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

All night long, Centennial goalkeeper Nick Kellinger had ignored the Towson fans screaming of his name.

But with the game tied late, he responded in a big way. The senior thwarted two straight shots from point-blank range, and, later, was protecting a two-goal lead when the Generals' Tim Skeen altered his shot and hit the pipe with 2:15 to play.

That would be Towson's final offensive threat.

When the final buzzer sounded, Kellinger's 10 saves had helped secure a come-from-behind, 9-7 upset of the 14th-ranked Generals in the Class 3A-2A state championship game at UMBC, earning the fifth crown for 27th-year coach Mike Siegert.

"What's my name? What's my name?" Kellinger screamed at Towson's fans, leaping and running upfield to his teammates. "They tried to get into my head all game long, but I liked it. It just fired me up. We've overcome stuff like that all year long."

Kellinger anchored a team that continually improved following a season-opening two-goal setback against Glenelg.

"We were down against Broadneck, 5-1, and getting handled, but the kids came back and tied the game at 6-6. We lost 8-6," said Siegert, whose Eagles have won five straight games. "The idea is to play the really good teams to expose your weaknesses. So at that point, I told the kids our goal was to get better every game. Tonight, we weren't out to play close - we were out to get a win a championship."

The Eagles (16-3) had a habit of playoff comebacks, having edged Fallston and Mount Hebron - the latter in quadruple overtime of the regional final.

Siegert's game plan last night was to shut down the Generals' top scorers, and for faceoff midfielder Eric Meekins to hold his own against Towson's dominant Dan Decker. Siegert charged defenders Nick Angle, Keith Fischer and Stephen Zonarich with the respective assignments of containing Towson's top-scoring Colin Cook, Tim Skeen and Richard Ford.

Although Meekins won only seven of 20 faceoffs, Centennial's defensive trio held Towson's trio to a combined four goals and two assists.

Towson led 2-0 after Skeen spun around a defender and bounced in a 15-yard shot at 7:34 of the first period. But the Eagles scored five of the next six goals for a 5-3 halftime lead.

Alex Ashcroft (one goal, four assists) sparked the four-goal run for a 4-2 lead at 4:28 of the second quarter. He assisted Eric Evans (two goals, one assist), converted a goal off a pass from Jonathan Stumpf (one, one) and assisted both Stumpf brothers, Sam (three goals) and Jonathan, on consecutive scores.

"We just connect and we start getting on a roll. It's our team chemistry," said Ashcroft. "I just try to come around the crease, see who is open. The adrenaline was really pumping. We were really feeling it and wanted to stick it to them.

However, Towson scored three of the next four goals to tie the game for the third time at 6 heading into the fourth period.

The Generals (15-2) led for the final time, 7-6, after Cook found Jason Connor with 9:37 to play, but the Eagles closed with a three-goal run - the first by Meekins and the last two by Sam Stumpf off assists by Ashcroft and Meekins.

The Generals, after their ninth state title, faced a Howard County team for the fourth straight time in a title game.

"Give them credit. They've got some tough kids," said Towson coach Ben Berquist. "We tried to match them blow for blow, but tonight, it worked out in their favor."

Goals: C-S. Stumpf 3, Evans 2, Ashcroft, Fry, Meekins, J. Stumpf; T-Skeen 2, Chapline, Connor, Cook, Decker, Ford. Assists: C-Ashcroft 4, Evans, Meekins, J. Stumpf; T-Cook 2, Chapline, Decker. Saves: C-Kellinger 10; T-Gentry 7. Half: Centennial, 5-3.

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