Boys' Latin and McDonogh played on even terms for most of Tuesday night's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal game at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
There was one glaring exception: faceoffs.
It's an area that Boys' Latin senior R.G. Keenan has dominated all season, and nothing changed on Tuesday. Winning 17 of 21 faceoffs, Keegan led the No. 1 Lakers to a 10-7 victory over No. 3 McDonogh as they seek their ninth title (including the Maryland Scholastic Association) and first since 2006.
Junior midfielder Jeff Chase scored three goals to lead Boys' Latin, which will take a 16-3 mark into Saturday's championship game against No. 2 St. Mary's at 8 p.m. at Towson. The Eagles, who got two goals from Brenny Daly and a strong defensive effort from Joe Meurer, closes out the season with a 16-6 mark.
Trailing 2-0 early, the Lakers slowly climbed back to get even on a goal by Kevin O'Neil with a minute left in the third quarter. Fittingly, Keenan won the ensuing faceoff and scored six seconds later to give the Lakers their first lead. The Lakers, with the ball for most of the fourth quarter, scored the game's next three goals to pull away.
"In the beginning I was struggling a little bit -- I went early a couple times -- but as soon as I started getting organized and got myself together, I started winning more and that's when we got the momentum," Keenan said. "It's a great feeling," he added, in reference to advancing to Saturday's title game. "I just hope we don't go out nervous and just play lacrosse and do what we've been doing. I have a lot of confidence in everybody."
With his team holding down the Lakers' potent attack to stay close for much of the game, McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner couldn't have asked for more from his players. He said it was a case of the Eagles not having possession enough in the second half to pull through.
He added: "We've got 37 players on the team I'm very very proud of right now and I wouldn't trade my team for anybody. We worked really hard and accomplished some great things."
No. 2 St. Paul's 7, No. 4 St. Mary's 6: Junior Taylor Michel provided the game-winner with 2:48 left in regulation and junior goalie Gunner Waldt made a timely save in the last minute as the Crusaders (14-4) advanced to Saturday's title game.
After St. Mary's (12-8) scored three straight goals to get even at 6 -- Logan Connoly providing the tying goal with 5:33 left -- the Crusaders made the big plays in the end to close out the win.
The Crusaders will chase after their 25th championship (including Maryland Scholastic Association) when they meets rival Boys' Latin on Saturday. Boys' Latin came away with an 11-10 victory on St. Paul's in the regular-season finale on May 7.