Gov. Thomas Johnson High School goalkeeper Nick Sponyoe made four difficult saves in a matter of three minutes to begin Thursday night's boys lacrosse game against Urbana.
Coupled with the two goals the Patriots scored in the first quarter, a little bit of doubt crept in among the Hawks on their sideline.
After all, Urbana was coming off difficult back-to-back losses to Middletown and Linganore that dropped the team's record below .500. The last thing the Hawks needed was to lose a home game to Thomas Johnson.
However, Hawks attacker Brandon Plante got the scoring started two minutes into the second quarter and Urbana dominated Thomas Johnson 13-6 on a pleasant night in Ijamsville. The Hawks improved to 5-5 on the season under first-year coach Jim McKeever.
“The first quarter definitely did something to our mentality,” said Hawks attacker Scott Carpenter. “We decided to pick it up, play our game and not play down to their level. We definitely didn't expect it. We realized we weren't playing our game.”
Carpenter finished with four goals and an assist, while Jake Christoff scored three goals in the rout.
“We're a great team that plays well with a lot of desire and a lot of passion,” McKeever said. “Sometimes it just takes us a little bit to wake up. Their goalie did very well. I think it kind of shocked us.”
Perhaps more impressive than Urbana's 13-spot on the scoreboard was the 19-spot it hung in the faceoff column. The Hawks didn't lose a draw all night. Thomas Johnson's Doug Sponyoe couldn't match Steven Redding's power in the faceoff X and it led to several offensive possessions the Hawks wouldn't otherwise have had. George van Hove and Nick Lenta also took turns in the faceoff X for the Hawks, where they were perfect.
“We didn't lose a faceoff all night. I think that helped us on our possessions. It was a big difference in this game,” Lenta said. “I was ready. I was pumped to go. Going into the game after the half, I was ready. I wanted to keep on them.”
Redding took a majority of faceoffs for the Hawks, while Travon Bristol tried to help the Patriots (7-5) right the ship in the fourth quarter after previously unsuccessful draws by Alex Aguilar, Matt Bloom and Jason Toy. But Thomas Johnson's offense never was able to establish a rhythm because it couldn't possess the ball.
“That was our best night facing off,” McKeever said. “Steven Redding does a great job and Nick Lenta as well. They work together. They help each other get stronger.”
Jason Conner made seven saves in the winning effort and was later relieved by backup goalkeeper Dustin Clipp. Sponyoe finished with 10 saves.
Urbana found its scoring stride when Christoff recorded a natural hat trick that spanned the halves. The Hawks scored three goals in the first 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the second half to extend their lead to 8-2. Bloom ended Urbana's eight-goal run with a strike midway through the third period, but Carpenter scored 1:11 later to begin another Urbana run. The Hawks scored the next four goals to coast to the victory.
“Before this, we had a losing record,” Carpenter said. “We need games like this to pump us back up after losses to Linganore and Middletown.”
Plante's first goal came on a quick wrap-around that caught the Patriots' defense off guard, and he got another on a beautiful one-timer. Ryan Coffey had the ball along the near sideline and delivered a pass low to a cutting Plante. While falling forward, Plante managed to catch and shoot a low side-armed shot past Sponyoe.
Nick Larsen and Bloom scored the goals that gave TJ a 2-0 lead, but following those strikes, Urbana's defense tightened considerably.
“You've got to get hot at the right time,” Lenta said. “We could go on a run and be that team that upsets a few teams in the playoffs.”
Urbana 13, Gov. Thomas Johnson 6
Thomas Johnson 2 0 1 3 — 6
Urbana 0 5 5 3 — 13
ScoringThomas Johnson (7-5): Nick Larsen assisted by Jason Toy (8:22, 1st), Matt Bloom (4:43, 1st), Bloom (6:17, 3rd), Max Hart (6:33, 4th), Hart (4:22, 4th), Alex Aguilar assisted by Alex Smith (3:42, 4th)
Urbana (5-5): Brandon Plante assisted by Matt Harris (9:46, 2nd), Ryan Coffey assisted by Scott Carpenter (7:54, 2nd), Plante assisted by Coffey (6:48, 2nd), Carpenter assisted by Justin Ailstock (6:48, 2nd), Jake Christoff assisted by Patrick Coffey (0:01, 2nd), Christoff assisted by Ailstock (10:44, 3rd), Christoff assisted by Carpenter (8:12, 3rd), Carpenter (7:34, 3rd), Carpenter assisted by Plante (5:06, 3rd), Jack Atmonavage (0:00, 3rd), Carpenter (8:32, 4th), Hunter Novotny assisted by Matt Harris (7:51, 4th), Robert Collins (2:37, 4th)