The Indian Creek boys lacrosse team picked quite the stage to pull off an all-time great comeback victory.
The Eagles put together a furious second-half scoring burst to rally from five goals down and defeat Annapolis Area Christian School 15-13 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship at Johnny Unitas Stadium on the Towson University campus on May 18.
Indian Creek scored six unanswered goals to turn a 12-7 third-quarter deficit into its first lead of the game at 13-12 early in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles never trailed again en route to the program’s third MIAA C Conference championship.
It is Indian Creek’s first title since winning the second of back-to-back titles in 2015 and its first under third-year head coach Jason Werner.
Sophomore Sammy Carter led Indian Creek with six goals and two assists, senior Langston Sheppard had four goals, senior Sam Homick had three goals, and Indian Creek got scores from Jonah Amin and Michael Troese and seven saves from sophomore goalie Shaun Gerety in the victory.
Troese had a game-high 11 ground balls while playing both offense and defense as a long-stick middie. The senior leader said the team never relented despite facing a five-goal deficit.
“This is a special group of guys,” said Troese. “We all knew we were still in this game no matter what. Six goals, eight goals—we knew we were in this game. We told the younger guys, ‘Keep your heads up. This is not over.’ We had a bunch of sophomores step up, and our seniors were leading them. We were telling them, this game is not over, and that’s what the outcome was. We came back and we did it. We never gave up at all, and I’m just so happy and proud of the team.”
Annapolis Area Christian School took early leads of 2-0 and 7-2 and led 7-4 at half behind the scoring prowess of Jay Jenkins (six goals, three assists) and John Gage Collier (four goals, two assists). AACS also got two scores from Ben Sturgell and one by Mason Fortlage and 16 saves from senior goalie Cole Vasquez.
With his Indian Creek team trailing 12-7 in the third quarter, Carter scored twice in quick succession, and Sheppard scored with eight seconds left in the period to make it 12-10. Carter scored two more times to open the fourth quarter and tie the game 12-12, and Troese’s goal gave Indian Creek its first lead of the game at 13-12 with 10 minutes left. Fortlage’s goal stopped a six-goal Indian Creek rally, but Homick came back with a goal to put Indian Creek back up, 14-13. The Indian Creek defense—Gerety, long poles Troese, Michael DePaolis, Patrick Riley and Ronan Fanning and middies Daniel Garland, John Davis, Carter and Amin—surrendered only Fortlage’s goal in the final period, and they killed off a man-down penalty situation with under five minutes to play. Fanning came up with a huge interception to regain possession with under two minutes left, and Carter netted an insurance score to make it 15-13.
“It was great,” said Carter of Indian Creek’s second-half surge. “Really it was all the seniors’ leadership and making us keep our heads up the whole time and never thinking we were going to lose it. A couple goals, and the whole team just starts rolling.”
The victory was Indian Creek’s second over AACS this season. Indian Creek lost to AACS 15-7 on April 3, then won the rematch 12-11 in double overtime on May 8 on a game-winning goal by Troese.
Werner said the team built up its confidence as the season progressed.
“This has been the most fulfilling season coaching-wise,” he said. “We’re a completely different team than we were in March. We knew that we could come and challenge for a championship, and there were times in the season when our guys, I don’t think they necessarily believed that, because we had a couple injuries, lost a couple conference games. But at the right time they started believing and started clicking.”
Werner likewise noted the importance of everyone to the success of the whole. “All of them. We have 28 kids. Nine of them have pretty much never played lacrosse before, and every one of them is super valuable. I can’t pick one. They all played a role in getting us here.”
Troese, who was a freshman on the Eagles’ 2015 championship team, said it was great to see the Indian Creek community rally around its teams. The baseball team won a championship earlier this week
, and the boys lacrosse team made it two championships in four days for the school.
“A lot of our teachers were here watching us, and it just shows how great of a community we are,” Troese said. “It was a great feeling to see all our teachers and friends in the stands watching us and cheering us on. “This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Troese said, “because I love every guy in that locker room, and everyone stepped up.”