SPRINGDALE – With two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Eleanor Roosevelt Head Coach Scott Sorensen called a timeout to get his boys lacrosse team refocused.
Despite holding a four-goal lead over Gwynn Park in the Prince George’s Boys Lacrosse County Championship on May 4, the Raiders had survived eight minutes of attacks and man-down situations. Sensing the momentum drifting toward their 3A opponents, Sorensen leaned on his captain, Frederick Grimes II to be a driving force.
“He told us to calm down and play our game and not to focus on the other team,” Grimes said. “They were trying to talk a little bit, but we knew we had to play our game and stay in our heads.”
“He’s the most amazing natural leader I think I have ever met,” Sorensen said. “He’s taken the captain’s role and expanded everything he does on and off the field and helping guys get better. He really is a natural-born leader.”
The senior midfielder reacted quickly to his coach’s request, scoring the first of three-straight goals the Raiders converted following the timeout. Grimes completed his performance with three more goals and an assist to lead Roosevelt to a 15-4 victory against the Yellow Jackets to claim their second straight county title.
Both teams came to the championship game holding identical ten-win undefeated records. However, Roosevelt was the reigning champions from last season, defeating the same Yellow Jackets team. Gwynn Park players had spoken during the season on their desires to avenge the 16-2 loss they suffered at the hands of the Raiders.
However, Roosevelt was the aggressor early, firing shots from different angles around the field. Attacker Chandler Grimes scored two goals in the opening three minutes including an underhanded shot that curved past two defenders before burying itself in the cage. Midfielder Maurice Butler also connected with a long-range goal, his second of the game, with 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter, giving the Raiders an early 5-1 lead.
Gwynn Park exerted its lacrosse dominance throughout the second half, holding the majority of the possession and taking shots at the Roosevelt goal. They outshot the Raiders 8-4 and had four man-up opportunities to take advantage. Attacker Christian Coleman received a pass in front of an open goal from sophomore Desmond Jordan to add the Yellow Jacket’s second point of the contest.
Even with all the extra chances to convert, Gwynn Park did not have the scoring touch. Junior Edward Porterfield shot a 15-yard laser towards goal during a two-man advantage, but the ball pinged off the crossbar. Raiders goalie Jared Hamlin would save other shots or they would sail wide from the net.
“When a game like this happens, and they are dropping the ball and not making clean passes or catches, it is pretty frustrating, but it is something we need to work on,” Gwynn Park Head Coach Gary Smith said.
The experienced Raiders took advantage of Gwynn Park’s mistakes following the timeout. Frederick Grimes fired a bounce shot that flew over the head of goalkeeper Preston Rorick and crushed the net before popping back out.
As halftime approached, attacker Alex Anthony pierced the Yellow Jackets’ net with a slashing 15-yard shot, giving Roosevelt a six-goal lead.
Coming out of the break, Gwynn Park attempted to hold more possession thanks to Porterfield’s dominance during faceoffs, winning 15 of the 19 draws during the game.
However, Gwynn Park still could not find the scoring touch to convert opportunities into goals. Roosevelt would capitalize again with four different goal scorers adding eight goals in the second half.
Coleman would add two goals to complete his hat trick, but it would be a little too late to save the result for Gwynn Park. Players were emotional during the final stages of the game, throwing their sticks down in frustration when attacks did not lead to goals. However, during their postgame huddle, they acknowledged that the better team won.
“The early goals in the first few minutes kind of shocked us,” Smith said. “So we had to make a lot of adjustments on defense because our players were getting beat one-on-one…But it is a good game for us, and we will face competition like Roosevelt in the playoffs, so we have practice Monday, go back to the drawing board, talk about what happened today and make those adjustments.”
Even with the result and winning their second straight county championship, Sorenson called the affair a tough one as Gwynn Park dissected their defense in the second quarter. Combined with 11 penalty calls, the Raiders will need to make changes before the start of the state playoffs in hopes of winning their second regional title.
“We got to keep working as a team all around,” Anthony said. “We have to help our defense, work on sliding and clearing because that is something we struggled with the most.”