The Damascus High School boys' lacrosse team had opportunity after opportunity, dominating time of possession and throwing everything it had at Poolesville senior goalkeeper Cody Zinsser.
But it wasn't until the last few minutes of Friday's Class 3A/2A West Region quarterfinal that the Swarmin' Hornets finally took control.
Heading into to the fourth quarter tied 4-4 — after going scoreless in the third — Damascus (11-5) snapped out of its scoring slump with three timely goals, defeating Poolesville 7-5 and setting up a region semifinal matchup against Rockville.
“We finally just started moving the ball,” Damascus coach Chris Thompson said. “Working it around, moving our feet and taking better shots. That was the number one thing.”
The Swarmin' Hornets have won nine straight and 11 of 12 after starting their season 0-4.
“It's the second playoff game. It's always pressure,” said sophomore attacker Dean Echard, who notched two goals. “We just had to do what we had to do as a team, and got it done.”
Nick Frankauski scored 30 seconds into the final period to give Damascus a 5-4 lead, and after Poolesville's Joel Hessels tied the game with his second goal, Sam Krizman responded with what turned out to be the game-winner.
“Once we started turning the corner and finding the shots, they were there,” Thompson said.
Two minutes later, near the six-minute mark, Damascus senior Connor Burke capped off an extended possession by scoring off a diving shot, giving his team a much-needed insurance goal.
“It felt like we had the game under our belt. It was a good feeling,” said Burke, who has 30 goals after scoring twice on Friday.
Zinsser, a second-year lacrosse player, kept Poolesville in the game by coming away with several big saves in the loss. The Frostburg State University football recruit limited the Swarmin' Hornets to their lowest scoring total since April 16, their most recent loss.
“He just kind of naturally came on. He's really been improving throughout the course of the year,” Poolesville first-year coach Josh Funk said.
The Falcons (10-4), which started five sophomores, hit the 10-win mark for the first time since 2004.
“The future looks bright for Poolesville lacrosse,” Funk said.
“... It's not the way we wanted it to go. I thought we had made more improvement throughout the course of the year but obviously we didn't show that tonight,” he said.
Damascus defeated the Rams 10-8 on April 26. What will it take for the Swarmin' Hornets to beat them again in Monday's scheduled game?
“Hard work, finesse and teamwork,” Echard said.
Damascus 7, Poolesville 5
Damascus 2 2 0 3 — 7
Poolesville 2 1 1 1 — 5
Damascus (11-5): Goals — Connor Burke 2, Dean Echard 2, Billy Busche 1, Nick Frankauski 1, Sam Krizman 1.
Poolesville (10-4): Goals — Joel Hessels 2, Jake Armstrong 1, Keon Ghozati 1, Jonathan Hetrick 1.