LARGO — Midfielder James Dawodu led an early offensive attack and goalkeeper Josue Facey was able to make several late-game saves to power the Largo High School boys lacrosse team to a 4-2 home win over Fairmont Heights High School in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 1A sectional semifinal game on May 10.
Dawodu led the Lions with two goals to go along with a strong defensive effort as Largo picked up its second consecutive win. He said ball movement and effort were some of the key components to the playoff win.
“The key to pulling off the game…it’s the team who puts the most effort into it because effort wins the game. It’s not really talent,” Dawodu said. He and added that defending Fairmont Heights attacker Victor Paz was part of the gameplan.
“The goal was to score more, and actually stop No. 6 (Paz) because that’s the guy. So we get to No. 6, they don’t score.”
Only two minutes into the game Dawodu scored off an assist from Nolan Baysmore, and Cameron Draughn added another goal with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter to put the Lions up 2-0 early.
About midway through the second quarter, Dawodu charged down the middle of the field and dodged a few defenders to score his second goal of the afternoon to extend Largo’s lead to 3-0 at halftime.
At the half, the Hornets had already taken 12 shots to the Lions’ nine. Just beneath the five-minute mark of the third, David Chigbu connected on a goal from the right side of the crease to make the score 4-0.
However, Fairmont Heights was determined not to surrender as it began to chip away at the lead beginning with a goal by Victor Paz as time expired in the third. Paz’s goal was followed by a score by Ahmir Hampton, who whipped the ball into the net with 5:05 remaining in the game to bring his team to within two goals of the Lions.
In the final five minutes, both teams struggled offensively. The Lions were held scoreless in the fourth, and the Hornets had several opportunities to tie the game – but Facey wouldn’t allow it, coming up with six vital saves in the final quarter. The sophomore finished with 13 saves for the game.
“I think they did very well overall. We kind of quit in the fourth quarter, but (for) three quarters we looked like we deserved to be on the field,” Largo Head Coach Ray Crawford said of his team’s effort.
“We got one of the best defenses in the county…when we just move our feet and stay in front of people, we got one of the best defenses – our zone defense is pretty tight.”
Largo won the faceoff contest 5-1. The Lions (9-5) topped the Hornets when the two met in the regular season, 5-2, on May 11. Crawford, a third-year leader of the program, highlighted what the strategy was entering the matchup.
“Stop 6 (Paz). No. 6 is a great athlete, just stop No. 6,” said Crawford, “and just keep fast-breaking, and do what we do.”
Fairmont Heights’ season concludes at 4-7 record overall. Head coach Bill Reaves said the Hornets weren’t able to shoot as smoothly because of soggy weather conditions but was pleased with his team’s “hustle” nonetheless.
“When the sticks get wet, they get whip in them, and the ball goes straight down, so the shooting is crazy. And we were trying to adjust them, so we had that, but we hustled,” Reaves said, also pointing the two significant challenges that the Hornets faced during the afternoon: Facey’s defense of the goal and not playing on a turf field.
“The goalie is pretty good. He’s always been pretty good, then the field. We have a turf field, so it’s a lot smoother,” Reaves said.
As Fairmont Heights concludes its season, Reaves encouraged his seniors particularly to continue playing lacrosse, whether competitively or recreationally, and to enroll and excel in college if they so choose.
“They got a chance to play a sport they normally don’t play, and most of them do play sports, so hopefully they go to college,” Reaves said. “Just good luck and do well and school. That’s what it’s really about.”
Hornets midfielder Kizquel Haynesworth agreed that “wet sticks” and having to shoot against the goalie were the more identifiable obstacles for his team throughout the afternoon. “We took a tough loss, 4-2, but I think we could’ve done better though,” Haynesworth said. “I told my teammates that we need to pass more instead of just trying to cradle so much and lose the ball.”
Moreover, Reaves urged his returning players to work on their game in the offseason, Haynesworth continued.
“You love lacrosse; you could do it all year. Go home, get your stick, cradle some in the backyard. And he (Reaves) said if we really love the sport to come back and just keep working on it,” he said.
Next, the Lions will try to redeem themselves against Frederick Douglass (9-3), to whom they fell 4-1 in the regular season. The matchup is scheduled for May 13 at Douglass.