BETHESDA – Walter Johnson High School hosted the boys’ lacrosse Senior Showcase on May 24. More than 40 student-athletes represented 19 Montgomery County schools and closed out their high school playing career with one last game, which focused on both fun and competition.
The 46 players were chosen by their respective coaches to participate in the game based on their on-field performance.
Most of the boys had earned several awards throughout the 2019 season: four players were named Academic All-Americans four others were named All-Americans, and attacker James Petrolle from Damascus High School received Player of the Year honors. Many other student-athletes who played in the Senior Showcase made it to the Montgomery County Lacrosse Coaches Association (MCLCA) All-County Team.
Throughout the game, the winners of the U.S. Lacrosse Awards were announced over the speakers, and the recognized players took the field at halftime.
Each player wore his helmet with his school’s colors, but the boys separated into two different teams: the Blue and the White. Jeff Fritz from Churchill and Stu Orns from Poolesville served as the head coaches for the Blue team, while Steve Puhl from Richard Montgomery and Rob Hokanson from Damascus helmed the White team.
The game was infused with fun from start to finish as the referees didn’t call any penalties and the coaches rotated players on and off the bench so that everyone had a chance to participate.
Most of the boys have played together on various teams since they were children, and perhaps it was this camaraderie that generated entertaining sideline shenanigans that drew laughter and applause from the fans in attendance. The White team treated the crowd to a “jousting” match, where two players climbed onto their teammate’s back and attempted to push the other pair to the ground using a lacrosse stick.
Student-athletes from the Blue team pretended they were reeling in a fish, with Austin Smith from Paint Branch playing the role of the fish. The Blue squad then lifted Smith off his feet to pose with their prized catch.
Perhaps it was Vasilios Mantzouratos from Northwest and Jason Heeley from Paint Branch who set the lighthearted tone with their unique faceoff to start the game. Instead of the regular faceoff from the ground, Mantzouratos and Heeley engaged in a heated round of rock, paper, scissors and Mantzouratos, representing the White team, emerged the victor.
In the end, the White team earned a decisive 11-4 win over the Blue team. Nick Mohardt from Damascus tallied three goals and one assist and was named Player of the Game.
“It means a lot to me; it’s very special,” said Mohardt, who will be playing ice hockey at West Virginia University in the fall. “There’s a lot of good kids here. I’m just very thankful.”
Meanwhile, Mantzouratos, who will be studying Sports Medicine at Howard Community College, finished the game with one goal and reminisced on his high school playing career at Northwest.
“Just playing with my brothers every day. The practices, the game days, just going in and getting ready for the game and listening to music and being with your friends and getting hyped,” said Mantzouratos. “I feel like (my performance tonight) could have been better, but overall I did a pretty decent job and I was happy I got a goal in my last game.”
Many of the players served up a highlight reel of plays to finish off their high school career on a high note.
Attacker David Rosenberg from Northwest, who played for the White team and will be studying Communication at Penn State University Park, tossed in a no-look goal with his back turned. Mohardt’s first goal of the night was a result of the senior throwing the ball over his shoulder.
Montgomery Blair’s Jossue Garcia, who will be attending Montgomery College, proved why he was one of four goalies selected for the Senior Showcase when he blocked several close shots, some with his body and some from his knees.
“I never thought I would be chosen for this game. It was a great experience, and I’m honored to play in this game,” said Garcia. “I’m going to miss my teammates, their leadership and their friendship.”
Sherwood attacker Michael Feeney, who will be playing club lacrosse at the University of Maryland, echoed Garcia’s sentiments and stated that Sherwood’s overtime win over Whitman from the 2019 season would remain one of his favorite high school memories.
“I’m just going to miss the brotherhood, for sure, and the bond with all my teammates, coming out every day and having fun,” said Feeney. “We all put in a lot of work and for a lot of us, lacrosse is a lot of our life, so (this game) means a lot for all of us and tonight was a lot of fun.”