Feb. 25—When Frederick County Public Schools sports were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, we thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport to help fill the void.
Each week, we have featured a sport and listed contenders from years past in that sport, asking readers to vote for their pick online, and we continued doing this when sports resumed in January.
We have published voting results the following week, when we featured another sport. But after this week, there will be no more sports to feature. We’ll still run the results of the poll next Thursday, though, so be sure to pick a team.
Readers can visit fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best.
This week’s sport is: Boys lacrosse. May the best team win.
2008 Urbana Hawks
Accomplishments: Class 4A-3A state finalist, 16-2 record
A force during the 2000s, Urbana came closer than any Frederick County team ever had to winning a state championship in 2008.
The Hawks ended up losing 8-7 in the state final, and that close call didn’t come against some one-year wonder. It came against juggernaut Dulaney, which had already won seven state crowns before taking the field that day and being forced to claw for title number eight.
With 1 minute, 59 seconds left, Urbana’s Blake Bing scored to tie the game at 7. Despite hailing from a county that had offered varsity lacrosse for less than a decade, the Hawks weren’t about to let one of Maryland’s most storied public school programs make them flinch.
But Dulaney, which never trailed, regained the lead when Brad Ruzika scored with 1:29 left. Urbana’s chance to tie the game for the fifth time was squashed when Dulaney goalkeeper Alex Williamson made a point-blank save on a Matt Thomas shot with 47 seconds to play.
“If that ball is a quarter-inch in another direction, we might be talking about a different game,” Urbana coach Joe Conner said. “We might be headed to overtime with a chance to win.”
The Hawks did plenty of winning in 2008. Aside from losing to dynastic Dulaney, their only other setback came to Georgetown Prep, a nationally ranked team that beat them 16-7 shortly before the playoffs started. Conner scheduled the Hoyas to help toughen up his team for a postseason run.
Urbana’s defense was led by UMass-bound Greg Anderson, who earned Frederick News-Post Player of the Year honors and won a Kelly Award as one of Maryland’s top high school player.
And its offense featured an embarrassment of riches, stocked with weapons like Bucknell-bound junior Ronjohn Dadd, University of Michigan-bound junior Ryan Dutton-O’Hara, senior Brendan Oster and Bing.
No single player hogged the scoring spotlight. In the regular season, Dadd had 30 goals, O’Hara had 38 goals and Oster had 38 goals and 35 assists.
Talking about what it was like trying to defend against such a multi-pronged attack, then-Tuscarora boys coach Brad Gray mentioned a mythological creature that sprouted more heads when one was struck off.
“They’re like a hydra,” he told The Frederick News-Post after the Titans played the Hawks that season. “You take one [on], and two others spring up.”
Dadd, O’Hara, Oster and reliable face-off man Matt Thomas (who played at Towson University) were all-county first-teamers. Bing, goalkeeper Colin Baker and defenseman Randall Ott were second-teamers. The Hawks also had Ohio State-bound Trey Wilkes, UMBC-bound Brian Patton and Virginia Tech-bound CJ Babb.
With many of those key players being underclassmen, the Hawks returned to the state championship game in 2009. The Hawks have made the state tournament a Frederick County-best seven times, and they also top all county teams with three state championship appearances, including a 9-7 loss to Mount Hebron in 2006.
2008 Walkersville Lions
Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A state finalist, 16-3 record
After being the first Frederick County team to reach the state tournament in 2002, Walkersville helped produce another county first in 2008.
This was the first time the county had two teams reach the MPSSAA finals during the same season, as both the Lions and Urbana advanced to the championship.
Just like the Hawks, Walkersville would end its season against a perennial power, Hereford, which beat the Lions 17-5 to claim its fourth state title. Also, that started a torrid streak that saw the Bulls win six straight state crowns.
Nonetheless, Walkersville had made some history, going further than ever after rolling to a 21-11 win over Centennial in the state semis.
“I’ve been waiting 22 years for this,” Walkersville coach Dave Baldwin said after the win over Centennial, recalling when he helped start a lacrosse movement in the county with the Blue Ridge Lacrosse Club. “It’s been a pleasure watching them play. They’re producing.”
No one produced more than Lions senior Chad Benford. Scoring seven goals in his team’s onslaught in the state semifinals, Benford was The Frederick News-Post Offensive Player of the Year after finishing with 69 goals and 80 assists to lead the county in scoring.
Walkersville’s other all-county first-teamers were Troy Hubbard (67 points) and goalkeeper Will Lane (stopped 126 of 202 shots in the regular season and had a 5.4 goals against average).
2010 Thomas Johnson Patriots
Accomplishments: Class 4A-3A state semifinalist, 14-4 record
Gone were the days when wins were rare for Thomas Johnson.
Pulling off a dramatic 8-7 victory over Quince Orchard in the regional championship game, the Patriots continued one of the finest seasons in program history and made their first trip to the state semifinals.
But then TJ ran into unbeaten Severna Park, the top-ranked public school team in Maryland, losing 14-2 to a program that went on to capture its fifth state crown.
But the Dave Hawkins-coached Patriots, like Ryon Lynch, realized how far the program had come.
“I came into high school and this [TJ] program was consistently a losing program,” he said. “This group has definitely turned that around. The seniors have turned it around since freshman year and everyone else has contributed. It’s been great.”
Lynch, who earned Frederick News-Post Offensive Player of the Year honors, led Frederick County in scoring for the second consecutive season with 113 points (64 goals, 49 assists).
TJ’s Alex Beard (32 goals, 32 assists), Alex Drankiewicz (defense) and Dale Kowatch (defense) also earned all-county first-team honors.
Second-teamers were Brian Chase, Felipe Gaete, Phillip Mees, Rian Small and Andrew Warburton.
2011 Linganore Lancers
Accomplishments: Class 4A-3A state champion, 16-1 record
Every team on this list has impressive credentials, but the 2011 Linganore Lancers have the most historic credential — they were the first Frederick County lacrosse team, boys or girls, to win a state title.
Linganore had never even made the MPSSAA final four before 2011, and heading into the fourth quarter of the state final, the Lancers trailed 2009 state champ South River by two goals.
But with faceoff ace Alex Daly giving them crucial possessions and scoring machine Michael Kenski firing shots that struck the back of the net a few more times, Linganore stormed in front and held on for a 13-12 win over the Seahawks.
South River’s Ben Chisolm fired a potential game-tying shot that hit the post and ricocheted past midfield with 18 seconds left, providing one final dramatic moment in Linganore’s dream season.
“I never thought this would be the end of our high school careers,” said Daly, a senior who went on to play at Army. “But it’s the best possible ending we could have asked for.”
While hailing from Frederick County, where lacrosse had only been offered on the varsity level since 2000, might’ve made the Lancers seem like an underdog, they possessed plenty of talent and gumption.
First, the talent, starting with Daly. His uncanny ability to win face-offs was invaluable, and he walked off with Maryland State Lacrosse Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game MVP and Frederick News-Post Player of the Year honors in 2011.
Kenski was pretty much always good for a timely goal, reinforcing that fact in the state final, where he scored four, including the game-winner. He was The Frederick News-Post Offensive Player of the Year, finishing with 67 goals and 29 assists.
Linganore’s offense also boasted all-county first-teamers in Tyler Thompson (who played football at Monmouth), Alex Rice and Matt Aldridge.
As its one-goal win over South River suggests, Linganore also needed clutch defensive performers to bring the big prize back to Frederick County. Junior goalkeeper RJ Tischler, an all-county first-teamer, stopped more than 66 percent of the shots he faced in 2011 and called all of the signals for the defense, which included all-county second-teamer Tony Gaudino and honorable mention Stephen Washabaugh.
That defense came in handy in the state semis, too. Trailing by three goals heading into the third quarter to Dulaney, which had made the state tournament 18 times (17 more than Linganore), the Lancers gave up no goals in the second half en route to a 13-6 win.
Linganore had a penchant for comeback wins during the postseason, including battling back from an 8-3 deficit against Westminster.
“We just retain our composure because we know we have an offense that can score in bunches, and we did,” first-year Linganore coach Stan Aldridge told The Frederick News-Post after the state semis. “It’s kind of a pattern we’ve started to develop. It’s not good for my health, but …”
2011 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A state finalist, 15-2 record
Another team from 2011? Hey, it was a great year for lacrosse in Frederick County, and the Middletown Knights had a lot to do with that.
Like Linganore, Middletown reached the state championship game for the first time in program history, falling to a Hereford team that won its fourth straight state crown and would stretch that streak to six straight.
Unfortunately, the Todd Hawkins-coached Knights and Lancers never played each other that season, robbing observers of a chance for a head-to-head comparison.
Both teams only lost one regular-season game — to the same opponent, in fact, South Carroll. The Cavaliers beat the Knights 10-5 in the season-opener and topped the Lancers 12-9, so there’s not a world of difference between those outcomes for common-opponent believers.
But Hereford coach Brian King was impressed enough with the Knights after his powerhouse team faced them in a scrimmage and later in the final.
“They’re very athletic,” he told The Frederick News-Post. “You can tell they’re doing the right things out there. I mean, they have some kids going to Division I schools.”
One such player was junior Johnny Gallaway, who would later play at Villanova. He was Middletown’s top scorer in 2011, finishing with 44 goals and 44 assists and earning Frederick News-Post all-county first-team honors. Dan Goldstein, a defender who also went on to play at Villanova, was another all-county first-teamer.
The defense also had sophomore goalkeeper Max Edelmann, who went on to star at Rutgers after earning News-Post Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2013.
All-county first-teamers Conor Duckett, Zack Hansell and Sam Michels (who starred for the Knights’ state finalist football team the previous fall) helped give the Knights a formidable offensive attack.
2013 St. John’s Catholic Prep Vikings
Accomplishments: MIAA C Conference finalist, IPSL champion, 19-3 record
With a slew of its players ranking among Frederick County’s top scorers in 2013, St. John’s enjoyed a stellar season.
The Vikings’ bid for the MIAA C title was foiled by Carroll County’s Gerstell Academy, which beat them 12-6 in the championship game at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium. But it’s worth pointing out that Gerstell moved up to the MIAA B Conference the following season.
Earlier that season, St. John’s rolled to a 13-6 win over St. James in the Independent-Parochial School League championship game.
St. John’s prolific offense was led by Monmouth-bound junior Grier Wilson, who was also the quarterback of the school’s football team. He led the area in scoring with 53 goals and 34 assists, had 139 ground balls and won 66 percent of faceoffs.
Joining Wilson on the Frederick News-Post all-county first team was Chase Tyler, the area’s second-leading scorer with 41 goals and 29 assists. Two other Vikings, all-county second-teamer Conor Snyder and honorable mention Andrew Gauvin, also ranked high on the county scoring leaders list.
2016 Linganore Lancers
Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A state champion, 19-1 record
The 2016 Linganore Lancers captured the program’s — and Frederick County’s — second lacrosse state crown. And no other county lacrosse program, boys or girls, has won such a title.
“When we won, obviously we won it for the boys on the team,” Linganore senior Daniel Ross told The Frederick News-Post. “But at the same time we brought it back to our community, and we put Linganore High School back on the map in the lacrosse world.”
Consider Ross one of the main cartographers.
After he scored the game-winning goal with 1.6 seconds left in an 11-10 win over Northern-Calvert in the state semifinals, Ross scored two huge fourth-quarter goals to help the Lancers beat Mount Hebron 9-7 in the championship game.
Ross, who went on to play at Army, finished the season with 58 goals and 31 assists, leading the county in scoring and earning Frederick News-Post Offensive Player of the Year honors. One of his fourth-quarter goals in the final came on a behind-the-back shot, and he ended up with 159 goals and 98 assists in his career.
His cohort on the other side of the field, junior goalkeeper Kyle Browne, earned News-Post Defensive Player of the Year honors. Browne had a county-best .692 save percentage to pace a defense that allowed just 4.85 goals a game. With the Lancers forced to kill of a penalty during the final 1 minute, 17 seconds of the game, Browne made the last of his 15 saves.
Linganore’s other all-county first-teamers were defenseman Matt Honchalk, senior midfielder Daniel Murphy (52 goals, 11 assists), junior defenseman Anthony Sparacino and sophomore attack Jordan Swoyer (school-record 49 assists and 24 goals), who would be The Frederick News-Post Offensive Player of the Year in his senior year.
The Lancers had many other contributors, prompting their coach to praise their ability while downplaying his own.
“I’ve preached to them that they were destined for a state championship as long as the coaches didn’t mess it up,” Linganore coach Rich Thompson told The Frederick News-Post.