Broadneck and Severna Park have one of the most spirited rivalries in Maryland, and the two schools are on another collision course for supremacy in Anne Arundel County boys' lacrosse this season.
Broadneck has reeled off seven straight victories to open the season. Severna Park bounced back from season-opening losses to two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association schools to put together a six-game winning streak. Both teams have a deep roster and are stellar defensively.
"The key for us is next man up -- everyone, sometime, will have to step up," said Broadneck head coach Clay White, who credits his assistant coaches for getting the players prepared. "Our goal is to play one at a time and beat the teams we lost to last year. We want to be the last man standing at the end of the year. Our multisport athletes are going to lead us because they have been in the heat many times."
The Bruins are led by Riley McNulty, who is an all-around stellar athlete and was named honorable mention all-state in football at cornerback this past season. In the fall, he will attend the United States Coast Guard Academy, where he will play lacrosse and football.
"He is a terrific leader who listens to his coaches," White said. "He is better in every facet of the game. He plays both midfield and attack. He is comfortable anywhere on the field."
Cole Pellicano has been solid in goal and has a 70 percent save percentage so far this season. Ryan Kennedy is the leader on close defense, and he has thrived with Steven Jacobs and Tom Rinder. Tyler Martin has been successful handling faceoffs.
Taylor Bohanan, Jake Ryan and Nick Tobin have been effective on an attack that averages almost 11 goals per game. The first midfield of McNulty, Tim Oslislo and Connor Frederick have been "outstanding," White said.
The defensive middies are multisport athletes, and there are four solid athletes with Ford Murphy, Kevin Hickox, Sanni Gargano and Owen Joyce. Long stick middie Alex Bandarenko has also been a game-changer and "plays with violence of action," White said.
Just a few miles down the road at Severna Park, head coach David Earl has put together a similar successful formula. The Falcons are averaging almost 12 goals per game and allowing six.
"Our commitment and dedication in practice has been tremendous," Earl said. "Every day, our players and coaches work hard to improve at all the little things we need to win. The two loses gave us extra motivation to get better."
Severna Park is led by Ethan Carr, who is one of the top midfielders in the state. He has created matchup problems for much of the season and has committed to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"Ethan improved quite a bit," Earl said. "He is a natural athlete but also really showed improvement in his leadership skills. He has also improved his defensive skills on and off-ball. Ethan has the ability to break his defenseman down at all times."
As teams focus on Carr, other players, such Josh Coffman (Maryland) and Logan Spilker (Navy), have taken advantage to spark the offense. Attackman Steven Zichelli also has matured as a ball carrier and dodger, while Trevor Patschorke is another threat, scoring 14 goals in two games against Old Mill and Glenelg.
Another key for Severna Park has been the second midfield of Chase Cope, Cian Chung and Michael Zichelli.
"They have really gotten some positive shifts for us," Earl said.
Michael Zurlo has done an excellent job with faceoffs, winning 62 percent of his opportunities. Defensively, sophomore Barret Casto has been excellent in goal. The close defense of Cullen Joyce, Joe Morrow and Ty Ward have learned to play as a unit. Ryan Poulton has been effective picking up ground balls and clearing, giving the team extra possessions.
Severna Park runs a four-man rotation at long-stick middie with Jackson Neal, Matt Killpatrick, Matt O'Callaghan and Will Brown. Earl said this wears down teams because the Falcons always have someone fresh coming in at pole.
"Our defensive coordinator, Mickey Blum, has done a great job of getting our guys prepared each day to play," Earl said. "He does a fantastic job of limiting the other team to shots that we want them to take and finding the correct matchups through scouting. Our only goal is to get better each day, to improve upon yesterday. We want our players [to] strive to become better players, students and people. If we do that, everything will fall into place."
Broadneck and Severna Park play May 6 in the regular-season finale
PNC Lacrosse Spotlight: Manchester Valley Senior Midfielder Lizzie Colson
Lizzie Colson has been tormenting opponents since she arrived at Manchester Valley. Last year, she led the Mavericks to an undefeated season, scoring 83 goals with 27 assists. She also controlled 71 draws. This year, she has been dominant again, scoring four goals in a 13-9 victory against rival Century April 7. Colson, who comes from a family of top-notch lacrosse players, will attend Maryland in the fall.
You come from a family of lacrosse players. How did they inspire you to play the game?
Lizzie Colson: Coming from a family of lacrosse players pushes me to get better and work harder. I constantly have someone to shoot around with. It's such a fun experience, because we get to help each other grow as players and teammates.
What type of advice do you give to some of the younger players?
LC: I always tell the younger girls that lacrosse is such a mental sport and to stay positive, even if things aren't going their way. I understand that as a freshman, playing against a senior can be intimidating, but it's important that they know everything they are capable of achieving. I think it is really important that they believe in themselves.
What went into your decision to committing early to the University of Maryland, and how excited are you to play for such a successful program?
LC: When choosing my college, a lot of things went into my decision. Aside from the phenomenal lacrosse program, the academics and the campus sold me. When I walked on campus, I knew that was where I wanted to spend these next four years. I am beyond excited to play for Coach Cathy Reese. I cannot wait to be around players who will push me to be better every day. It's slightly intimidating going into such a successful program, but I can hardly wait to be a part and contribute.