OWINGS MILLS – The rematch. The almost perfect season. Trailing early, leading late. One overtime period, one final Severna Park goal and the heartbreaking sting of defeat. One team with the county’s eyes upon it, still waiting for its first lacrosse state championship.
There wasn’t much else Churchill could have done Wednesday to secure a victory. The Bulldogs strode into Mustang Stadium at Stevenson University as an undefeated team that still had something to prove, even after three finals appearances in four years.
Churchill gave the two-time defending champion Falcons a rough ride, beating Severna Park in face-offs, total shots and groundballs. In the end, with a late goal reminiscent of last year’s walk-off winner, sophomore Michael Harmeyer raised his stick over his head and gave Severna Park its eighth lacrosse championship in school history by a score of 8-7.
A few Bulldogs sat on the field in stunned silence as the Falcons wildly rejoiced, sticks and helmets flying through the air.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
Not after scoring five unanswered goals in the first half to overcome a deficit. Not after senior Brady Altobello’s game-high four goals. Not after attacker Ryan Leonard penetrated the Severna Park defense to put Churchill back in the lead with seven minutes left in regulation.
“I thought we did everything we could to win the game tonight…I can’t blame anything. If I knew what it was, we would have changed it by now,” said Churchill head coach Jeff Fritz.
The Bulldogs matched Severna Park’s defensive intensity, even drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty at the end of the fourth quarter. The Falcons held Churchill to the least number of goals scored all year, and outscored all but one of Churchill’s 2018 opponents.
However, none of that mattered as the game that had seesawed between the two teams all evening reached the end of the fourth quarter deadlocked at seven goals apiece.
It all came down to a four-minute, sudden-death overtime period to crown the 4A state champion. All or nothing. History or heartbreak.
Severna Park didn’t even give the Churchill attackers a chance. Harmeyer raced toward the net with a defender at his heels. In the blink of an eye, the sophomore gained just enough ground to slip the ball past Churchill goalie Andrew Robinson.
“I knew I could take my chance to go to the net. I really just got an extra step on my man,” said Harmeyer. “I just felt like I had an opening and I just stuck it. It’s crazy. I can’t even put it into words.”
The Falcons mobbed Harmeyer as several Churchill players looked on. Others embraced on the field or started to walk slowly toward the sidelines.
After the game, a visibly emotional Fritz spoke about his players and how special this season had been.
“We’re disappointed that we lost tonight, but I’m more upset that this is the last time that I’m going to be together with this group of seniors,” said Fritz. “I’ve said it before, this is the best team Montgomery County has ever seen, and for us to not win it and bring a state championship back to Montgomery County is very disappointing. I will never forget this team and especially this senior class.”