GAITHERSBURG – For Severna Park junior attackman Steven Zichelli, winning a state championship runs in the family. Two out of three of his older brothers won state titles in lacrosse with the Falcons. Zichelli and his twin brother Michael have yet to bring home a championship win.
After Saturday’s 4A regional semifinals game against Churchill, the younger Zichelli brothers have their chance to earn a state championship and the bragging rights that come with it.
The Falcons stamped their ticket for the tenth lacrosse state championship appearance in school history with a 10-5 victory against the Bulldogs at Gaithersburg High School’s John Harvill Stadium.
Steven Zichelli can take credit for five of his team’s goals.
“My teammates were getting me the ball and defense was holding them and giving us chances,” he said. “People were finding me and I was able to score those quick goals.”
The first quarter was a defensive showdown as neither team managed to put points on the board. Senior Churchill goalie Markus Hurd saved several hard shots, batting them away with his stick handle.
Falcons sophomore Drew Betch bounced a shot past Hurd unassisted in the second quarter to give Severna Park a 1-0 lead.
Churchill sophomore midfielder and Brown commit Reed Moshyedi answered with a goal of his own. Moshyedi swerved toward the net and flung the ball behind the goalie for the game’s only tie.
The Falcons were undeterred by Moshyedi’s goal. The defense amped up their attack, successfully throwing the Bulldogs off their game and forcing them to commit turnover after turnover.
Severna Park sophomore Joshua Coffman capitalized on a turnover to put his team back in the lead. Hurd’s deflections kept the game close for Churchill as the Bulldogs went into the half trailing by three points.
Churchill held the Falcons to just one goal in the third quarter and went eleven-for-eleven on face offs until the start of the fourth. Bulldogs junior attackman and Towson commit Spencer Knife scored his first goal of the game to pull Churchill within three points.
The penalty-free first half had given way to a third quarter that saw multiple yellow flags called on both teams. Severna Park had two players in the penalty box on back-to-back offsides and illegal body check calls as Knife slammed in his second goal.
Churchill could have mounted a comeback if not for Steven Zichelli. The junior saved the best for last as he scored three times in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs fought until the very end, as senior midfielder Ryan Sorkin fired the ball into the net with four seconds left.
The loss was a disappointing finale for a 16-1 Churchill team with high expectations after last year’s state championship appearance. Bulldogs head coach Jeff Fritz stated at the start of the season that his team’s goal was to win the title in 2016.
“We had a bad day,” Fritz said Saturday. “We had a lot of mental mistakes and you can’t win when you make as many mental mistakes as we did.”
Severna Park head coach Dave Earl credited his defense for creating turnover opportunities even as the Bulldogs won the face off battle.
“Our defense just played lights out. We were fortunate to have the possessions that we had,” he said. “We wanted to come out and do everything we’ve done all year, and not let the stage or the pressure of the game affect us.”
The Falcons are slated to face Howard in the 4A state championship.
Zichelli appeared excited for the opportunity to call himself a champion like his brothers.
“That’s bragging rights,” he said. “I want to get [a state title] too, just like them.”