BRUNSWICK — In a game jam-packed with 29 penalty minutes and five ejections, it got to the point where Layne Harich wondered if what was transpiring in Thursday’s boys lacrosse game between Brunswick and Walkersville was really happening.
“I saw eight or 10 guys in the [penalty] box, and it was like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” the Railroaders senior midfielder said.
In the later stages of the match, when the teams had finally stopped swapping penalties and engaged in full-strength lacrosse, Brunswick’s execution on offense won out.
Trailing by four with just over 5 minutes remaining, the Railroaders reeled off five consecutive goals to pull out a 13-12 victory.
Brunswick coach John Kostolansky called a timeout midway through the fourth quarter and reminded his players that they had almost rallied from an eight-goal deficit against Smithsburg, eventually losing by one.
“We knew we could come back and get stronger as the game went on,” said Harich, who finished with five goals and three assists.
After Nick Reiser scored with 5:02 left to give the Lions a 12-8 lead, Brunswick scored five times over the next 3:02. Harich broke a 12-12 tie with 2:42 remaining with a hard bounce shot that whizzed past Lions goalie Hunter Palak.
“When I’m in traffic, if I have a defender on my back and I see the goalie standing a little bit [upright], hopefully if I get that velocity going to the ground, it’ll bounce up over his shoulder or near his hips,” Harich said.
During Brunswick’s final spurt, Harich’s brother, freshman JT Harich, scored twice and tacked on an assist, including a goal during which he jumped high to retrieve a ground ball that popped in the air in front of Palak and shot the ball in one motion.
“I jumped up with one hand and then threw it down, hoping it would fall, and it did,” JT Harich said.
Kostalansky noted JT Harich’s work in other areas of the game, saying he scooped up key ground balls and played just as well on defense. Sophomore midfielder Josh Pratt may have played an even more crucial role, winning five straight faceoffs in the fourth quarter.
“In crunch time, he did what he needed to do, and this wouldn’t have happened without him,” Layne Harich said of Pratt.
Jacob Cadle tallied three goals and two assists, Cameron Cornett added two goals and an assist, and Josh Cadle and Nathan Hull each scored one for Brunswick, which seemed to be in control of the game with a 7-3 lead late in the second quarter.
Shortly thereafter, Walkersville’s Josiah Jones delivered a hard check that rendered Cornett motionless on the ground for a few seconds, drawing a three-minute penalty for targeting Cornett around the head area. Play still hadn’t resumed before Brunswick defensemen Ryan Shaffer, Jackson Gonzales and Aidan Rosenberg engaged in a scuffle with Walkersville attackmen Camden Church and Ryan Moriarty.
All five players received three-minute penalties and ejections, leading to a situation where Brunswick and Walkersville played 3-on-3 lacrosse in front of their respective goalies. Some spectators joked that the teams were playing box, or indoor, lacrosse.
Before the three-minute penalties had expired, Brunswick players Brandon Wells and Husoi Inthalasy were slapped with penalties, but they weren’t allowed to immediately sit out because teams can have no fewer than three players on the offensive side of the field. So they served their time after the three-minute penalties expired.
Told that the team combined to accumulate 29 penalty minutes, Kostolansky said the Railroaders finished with just under 70 penalty minutes all of last season.
“I started playing lacrosse in the mid-70s, and I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life,” Kostolansky said. “I’ve seen games where teams may go three guys down. I’ve never seen three guys down with two having to wait for three to release before they [sit out].
“I’m baffled, kind of disgusted that it happened, kind of embarrassed that it happened. It’s not how we play, it’s now I coach, it’s now what I preach.”
The 3-on-3 play, however, seemed to suit Walkersville just fine, with the Lions ripping off eight straight goals. Sophomore Nico McDonough scored five of them and finished with six in the game.
“Nico had a great game,” Walkersville coach assistant coach Kevin Patton said. “He really picked his game.
“We had some young guys get in the game, and Nico really played hard and showed them how to play. He was a real leader on the field today.”
Blake Shoemaker and Luke Harned each scored twice for the Lions, and Church finished with a goal and an assist.