GAITHERSBURG – The Howard High School boys lacrosse team got on the board quickly and never relented in a dominant outing, anchored by attackers Colin Sutch and Nathan Boone, to cruise to a 15-2 victory over Bowie High School in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A state semifinal match at Gaithersburg High School on May 18.
Sutch scored four goals and one assist while Boone scored two goals to go with three assists to lead the Lions (11-5) to a 13-goal win that brought Bowie’s season to an end.
Howard used a fast-paced offense, coupled with crisp ball movement and defensive communication, to command a 6-0 lead after the first quarter and an11-run halftime advantage. The Lions held Bowie scoreless for the first 30 minutes of the game.
Conversely, Bowie had a tough offensive morning. The Bulldogs struggled to gain possession of ground balls, dropped numerous passes and were not able to consistently clear the ball.
Howard dominated the draw, 13-5, and was able to get off 32 shots to Bowie’s 10. Lions goalie Matt Hubbard finished with two saves while Bulldogs goalie Zachary Thompson had seven.
A good deal of Bowie’s roster is new to the sport, according to Head Coach Rick Perry, who, despite the tough loss, was proud of what his team was able to accomplish this season.
“We were outclassed; these guys (Howard) are good. I’ve got a bunch of new lacrosse players on the team; this is always going to be pretty tough,” Perry said. “I’m very proud of how they actually performed this year. They actually overcame a lot of adversity throughout the year, and hey, I’m proud of them. I’m proud of their performance.”
Rashashim Gafney, a team captain, scored Bowie’s first goal of the morning. The senior long-stick midfielder broke loose from a defender, leaped and connected on an overhand shot at 4:39 in the third quarter. Following the scoring play, Bulldogs fans and the sidelines erupted with cheer.
“I noticed we hadn’t scored yet. I finally got the chance to go down and attack, and I definitely wanted to make my mark. Even if we didn’t win this game I wanted to leave the fans knowing that we could still compete with these guys, they’re not going to shut us out,” Gafney said.
“That one goal meant a lot the team. It definitely fired us up and revamped our energy for the rest of the game. Even though, of course, we would’ve liked to have had more, that one was just something I can carry with me…that goal will definitely be a high moment for me, something I’ll always remember. And I’m glad I got to do it here this year with my boys.”
Gafney has been a part of Bowie’s lacrosse program for all four years. This season, as a team captain, he helped led the Bulldogs to a historic year after they topped Northwestern, 9-7, to become 4A south regional champions. Gafney has played lacrosse since the age of 10, but the game against Howard will likely be his last time playing the sport competitively, he said.
“We had some bumps in the road, but I’m glad I got a chance to make history with my brothers one last time,” Gafney said. “We’re a four-year-old varsity program, and we brought a regional championship home. And we made it to the state semifinals, so it was a big accomplishment. Even though we didn’t get as far as we wanted, we definitely made some strides for excellence and I’m proud of my teammates.”
In addition to forcing several turnovers, the Lions quickly maneuvered through the Bulldogs’ defense and capitalized on fast breaks.
“We came out today with a championship approach as always and really focused on playing as a team, and assisting, and running through our plays, and that worked out for us today,” said Sutch, a junior. “We have a great defensive unit backing us up whenever we lose the ball or whatever but they were there to help push us forward.”
Midfielder Jeff Bruner recorded three goals and three assists and attacker Aiden Larsen pitched in with two goals and an assist as the Lions improve to 11-5 on the year.
Bowie’s second goal came from freshman Kai Cooper off a Kobie Johnson assist with two minutes remaining. The Bulldogs’ season concludes with a 14-2 overall record.