GC UHS v LHS Boys LAX 4.jpg

Urbana’s Joey Masson, left, gains possession of the ball during the Hawks’ taut win over rival Linganore last spring.

As I tried to pinpoint the best game I’ve covered while working for the News-Post, I had to ask myself an important question.

What are the most essential elements of quality entertainment in the world of sports?

An abundance of sheer talent certainly becomes an important component. There’s nothing more entertaining than watching individuals show off athleticism and skill one can only dream of having. From that talent comes a high level of intensity that stirs emotion — for the participants and the fans.

For me, the one element that maximizes entertainment is the unexpected.

The only expected part of the scintillating boys lacrosse game I covered last season between Urbana and Linganore may have been the one-goal margin of victory for Urbana.

The Hawks had just added a dynamic set of twin brothers in Jack and Jason Jozwiak, who had transferred in to join a team that was returning a strong offensive nucleus of Brendan Schmitz and twins Eric and Jason Kolar. The Kolars and Jozwiaks have Division I lacrosse in their futures, but I considered the Hawks a slight favorite on the road against Linganore.

The Lancers graduated several key pieces from teams that made three straight region final appearances (they won a state title in 2016) but still had plenty of championship pedigree and two future Division I college players in Roman LaRocco and Will Coletti.

But Urbana thoroughly outplayed Linganore for three quarters, and it seemed as if the Lancers had major issues accounting for all of the Hawks offensive weapons as four different players each scored two goals.

Urbana took a six-goal lead heading into the fourth quarter against a Linganore team that had not lost on its home field in four years.

I did not expect that.

At this point, I tabbed the Lancers as overmatched in this particular game. The three words that will always stick with me came out of LaRocco’s mouth during a timeout.

“I need help!” he lashed out.

LaRocco, the News-Post’s Offensive Player of the Year, delivered those words with such a tone that suggested his frustration was boiling over. The Hawks had bottled him up, sending two — sometimes three — defenders at him every time the ball was on his stick.

An easy victory for the Hawks was inevitable. The Lancers had one of the state’s best faceoff men in Coletti, and he lost just one battle at the faceoff X all game. But Urbana’s defense had neutralized that excellence by forcing numerous turnovers in the game, so the Hawks couldn’t possibly let this one slip away … or so I thought.

If the Lancers experienced frustration, they channeled it properly. And all of a sudden LaRocco received the help he needed from Billy Higgins and Cooper Fabry, who each scored twice in the fourth period as Linganore rattled off six unanswered goals to tie the game. LaRocco came up with the equalizer with 10 seconds left in regulation.

I did not expect that.

So with the momentum on their side, the Lancers continued to pressure the Hawks in overtime, and they would surely complete this improbable comeback. Urbana goalie Kevin Medina got in the way, making a fantastic save on a shot by Coletti.

Moments later, of course, Jack Jozwiak fed his brother, Jason, for the game-winning goal.

I did not expect that.

For the time being, Urbana is scheduled to host Linganore on April 21 at 7 p.m. But with the coronavirus pandemic having virtually shut down our entire country, I do not anticipate that game taking place. I sincerely hope I’m wrong and that when that date comes upon us, I can again say, “I did not expect that.”

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