Blazers earn decisive 15-5 victory in potential division clinching win
The Montgomery Blair Blazers (5-4) earned a huge win against the Magruder Colonels (4-7) at home on Wednesday night. The Blazers played well from the start, putting pressure on the Magruder defense and capitalizing on turnovers. Magruder kept the game close and competitive in the first half, but Blair's offense was relentless in the second half, winning countless faceoffs, dominating possession, and getting shots at every opportunity to win an important game.
Both teams came out strong to start the game. Blair won the opening faceoff and immediately began to attack the net. After a stop by a Magruder defender, the Colonels went on a speedy counterattack, charging through Blair's middies and scoring the first goal of the game only 47 seconds into the contest.
Blair retaliated the instant the game resumed, with sophomore offensive middie Calvin Bruewlhide winning the faceoff, charging down the field himself, and ripping a shot into the top left corner of the net at 11:03. Just 10 seconds after giving up the first goal, the score was even again. The first quarter was very back and forth with both sides getting good scoring opportunities. Less than a minute after the Blazers tied the game at one, Magruder took a shot from the right side that was denied by senior goalie Michael Cales, but a Colonel forward was able to scoop up the rebound and score less than 10 seconds later.
Determined to even the game again, Blair put on the pressure for the rest of the opening quarter, passing well in the offensive zone and getting a number of good shots off before senior attacker and attacker Paul Moser was able to sneak one by the Magruder keeper to even the game at two apiece.
To start the second quarter, Magruder won the faceoff, a feat they would only be able to accomplish a few more times in the contest, thanks to stellar play from Bruewlhide. "Faceoffs were huge in this game. Calvin [Bruewlhide] played out of his mind. We dominated on faceoffs and every time we got down and were able to possess, kill time, and put a couple goals in too," head coach Spencer Feeny remarked after the game.
Blair was able to win possession back immediately, and attacker Sean Tan received a pass and darted down the field, cutting to the left and beating the goalie near the post to capture the lead only 30 seconds into the second quarter.
Magruder was able to re-tie the game at three exactly two minutes later due to Blair getting into foul trouble. After a huge hit at 10:15 by senior middie and co-captain, Daniel Jones, the referee called a foul and had Jones sent off, giving Magruder a man advantage. Then, almost immediately afterward, senior defender and co-captain Nick Yonkos committed a foul and was also taken off. Magruder scored their goal to tie it on the ensuing possession.
The game continued to be fast-paced and very back and forth until the very end of the half. Blair scored again at 6:17 to take a 4-3 lead, but once again Magruder charged back and tied the game less than 30 seconds later. In the closing 1:30 of the first half the Blazers were able to pull ahead and get a little breathing room, thanks to two dazzling goals. With 1:21 remaining, Bruewlhide juked past two defenders and rocketed a shot from ten yards that the goalie had no chance in saving. Jones won the ensuing faceoff for Blair, blazed up the field and passed it off to one of the three forwards, who picked the defenders apart with gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing and scored just feet from the goal line.
In the second half, the Colonels tried to battle back, but were met with stiff resistance from Blair's defense and goalie. A Magruder forward ripped a low-to-high shot early in the third quarter that would have completely changed the game, but Cales made the key save. Tan scored again off a Magruder turnover at 9:37, then after winning the faceoff and controlling possession again, junior attacker Uro Lyi scored a minute and a half later to give the Blazers a commanding 8-4 lead.
Magruder battled back in the remaining two thirds of the quarter, scoring only once but putting on the pressure and forcing the Blair defense to step up and make big plays, including an incredible stick save from Cales on a bouncing shot from only fifteen yards out.
The game slowly got out of hand for the Colonels in the fourth quarter. The Blazers controlled the ball for virtually the entire twelve minutes, thanks to a long streak of faceoff wins and precision passing and shooting from the offense. Though they faced an onslaught of shots, Magruder didn't give up a goal in the fourth until six minutes had ticked off the game clock, surrendering the first one of the quarter on a rocket from senior offensive middie Wonder Abor.
After this goal, the floodgates opened up, with Blair scoring five more goals in the final five minutes of play, including two more from Tan, giving him a game high four goals. The score at the end was 15-5, but the Blazers on the field and in the crowd had been hyped long before the final whistle. Blair dominated possession in the final quarter, often scoring goals then proceeding to win the next faceoff and scoring again. "Faceoffs are such a big part of lacrosse. Getting possession and starting with the ball after a stoppage really helps the offense get into a rhythm and takes pressure off our defense. It was crucial to the game." Jones said.
With the win, Blair boys lacrosse is now in reach of their first division title in school history, a huge feat for the athletes. But the team is always looking for more. Blair senior defenseman Sandy Hunter hopes the team can accomplish more. "We are close to making history by winning the division, but we're looking farther ahead," Hunter said. "Going the farthest we ever have in playoffs, that's what's next for us."
Next Matchup: The Blazers hope to continue their dominant play Friday April 29, as they take on the Springbrook Blue Devils (2-7-1) on the road.
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