Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Good Counsel boys lacrosse: The beginning of a legacy

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As goal after goal poured in on the Good Counsel boys lacrosse team Tuesday night in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game, it was easy to note the separation between the Falcons and their opponents. With eight unanswered goals to begin the game and an 18-3 victory, DeMatha clinched its ninth conference championship in 10 years. Meanwhile, the Olney school was a long shot to even reach Ludwig Field at University of Maryland, as it never even reached the league's title game before.

So after the final horn blew and Cinderella's glass slipper fell off, Falcons head coach Matt Durkin rounded up his boys for one final pep talk. There was little dejection in his words - his players had enough of that. It was a message of introspection, on how far they'd come over the last two years.

As the Stags (14-5 record) were being awarded the championship trophy, the second-year coach noted that where his team's opponents were that night is where his team will be in the near future.

‘‘As a team, perhaps we weren't as deep or as skilled as DeMatha, but we didn't have the legacy,” Durkin said. ‘‘But we're building a legacy. I just wanted them to be proud of what we've done. We haven't been here as a program in 10 years. That's a milestone and a stepping stone. You know, it's brick by brick, step by step.”

It was actually more than one step the Falcons (16-5) took this year. With 16 wins, including the WCAC playoffs, they won more games than any Good Counsel team in the new millennium. And after an April 19 loss to the Stags, they won five straight in-league games to reach the final.

The ‘‘breakthrough” moment was their final win in the streak, an upset of former defending-champion St. Mary's Ryken on May 8. The host Knights led the WCAC semifinal by two goals at halftime, and appeared to be in control. But the Falcons played the second half like champions, scoring five consecutive third-quarter goals on their way to a 10-7 victory.

‘‘Getting to the championship was the best moment a s a coach - the boys realized they had gotten over that hump and had beaten a very, very good team,” Durkin said. ‘‘I was very proud to see the looks on their faces.”

Attackman Jimmy Bitonti, midfielder Bryce Dabbs - who scored two of the team's three goals on Tuesday - and defender Kevin Wright were all named first team all-conference. Senior short stick middie Grant Gates earned a second-team selection, along with junior middie Pat Durkin (Matt's younger brother).

They formed the core of a team that loses a lot to graduation, but returns enough to make it back to the promised land. Starting attackmen Tyler Nechanicky (junior) and Sean Wright (sophomore) are underclassman, while goalkeeper Patrick McEnerney is just a freshman.

As important as they will be next year, it was the seniors Durkin was thinking about as they spent their last moments on the field together.

‘‘I think those guys spearheaded the Good Counsel name getting on the map in a way that it hasn't been [in boys lacrosse],” Durkin said. ‘‘There's a good ripple effect, and it was caused by those senior captains and all the seniors, really. Just being able to get to this game, experience a couple practices before the big show.”