OXON HILL – Oxon Hill High School needed a bounce-back game. Despite a win over Friendly earlier in the week, its players were starting to feel the weight of an opportunity lost when they fell to rivals Gwynn Park on April 11.
In a grueling boys lacrosse game on April 25 against Frederick Douglass, the Clippers showed their dominance offensively, firing shots at will on their opponents. It would take a hat trick performance from attacker Chimaobi Uzowihe and contributions from the rest of the squad to help lead Oxon Hill to a deserving 7-2 home win.
The Clippers (8-1) have slowly grown into a lacrosse power in the county over the years, including starting its own club team before the sport was added into varsity competition, Head Coach Reginald Martin said. With 14 seniors on the roster with various levels of experience in the sport, Martin enlisted the help of former club players and alums Zakee Martin and Derek Douglass to bring the entire team up to speed.
Despite the experience advantage, it would be Douglass (6-2) that came out attacking the Clipper goal and being physical on defense. Following an Oxon Hill turnover, the Eagles took advantage with a quick counterattack as attacker D’Angelo Kyle stormed up the field. The junior dumped a diagonal pass to Rylan Downey, who rapidly released a shot for Douglass’ first goal.
“They were fast,” Oxon Hill senior attacker Ian Harvey-Thomas said. “They were really, really fast and the way we combated that was we started trying to cut off their angles instead of trying to run with them; when you cut off their angles, you do not even give them a chance to run.”
Douglass continued pressing defensively on Oxon Hill, looking to cause turnovers and start new attacks upfield. Oxon Hill called a timeout to regroup and moments later, senior Raymond Mitchell capitalized on an open midfield run, knocking down an Eagle defender out of his way before launching a close-up shot to tie the game.
Midway through the second half, sophomore Geoffrey Love added a second goal for Oxon Hill after receiving a pass from Uzowihe and turning away from his defender before launching a ground shot that bounced into the net. Uzowihe, a senior, would score minutes before halftime, giving the Clippers a two-point edge heading into the break.
Despite their offensive success in taking over the lead, Oxon Hill could not score as many goals as it would have liked. Goalie Roulson Weekes’ reflexives and saves kept the Eagles in the match, finishing the day with 12 saves. Entering the game only allowing 15 goals this season, Weekes has grown into a goalkeeping marvel in only two-and-a-half months playing the sport.
“He is phenomenal,” Douglass Head Coach Joel Woodyear said. “… He would have been a scholarship candidate had he been playing all four years or two years, at least for a division two school. I am happy to have someone like him.”
Combined with a strong defense, Douglass was able to keep Oxon Hill at bay for the majority of the third quarter until Uzowihe scored his second goal of the evening during a man-up situation. It would be followed by Harvey-Thomas running from behind the cage, run in front of it and letting go a no-look, behind-his-head strike for the goal.
With five seconds to go in the third quarter, Uzowihe capped off a hat trike performance scooping up a loose ball in front of the Douglass goal and launching a shot past Weekes.
“They put a lot of pressure on my hands (during the first half) which is pretty good,” Uzowihe said. “After halftime, I found a way to maneuver the ball and pass the ball around in order to get it back for an open shot.”
While Douglass was able to score their second goal with five minutes remaining, the Clippers enjoyed large spells of possession for the remainder of the contest, solidifying their win with a corner angle shot by junior Matthew Konohia for their seventh converted strike in the game.
“I feel like (the defense) did their best,” Weekes said. “There was nothing we could have done to stop them; there are things that we need to improve on but we did the best we could. I just felt like there were too many back-to-back shots being allowed and ball keeping (allowing them) down the field”
“Throughout the season, our issues are just basic mechanics of lacrosse and that’s what we were fighting with today,” Douglass Head Coach Joel Woodyear said. “We were clearly outmatched… They were making their catches; they were making their passes and we were struggling with the basics. But I do give hats off to my gentlemen because everyone on that field has less than two years of experience.”
Oxon Hill celebrated the win over the better teams in the 1A/2A/3A division mentoring youth lacrosse players and motivating them to keep playing the sport. The victory brought the group closer together but Martin said he expects his underclassmen to start making more frequent appearances on the scoresheet as Oxon Hill prepares for battle in the state playoffs.
“They can really elevate their games (before playoffs),” Martin said. “They are talented but they just have to get more seasoned and more confidence in their abilities.”