The Severna Park boys lacrosse program is such a well-oiled machine that not even being dropped from Class 4A to Class 3A could stop them this year as they beat Mount Hebron 9-6 on May 25 at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex to win the Maryland Class 3A state championship, the program’s sixth consecutive state title and state-record 11th title overall.
Carried by Ryan LaRocque’s hat trick and Ashby Shepard’s great goaltending, the Falcons handed the Vikings just their second loss of the season while capping off an impressive run through the playoffs.
After losing to Broadneck for the first time in over five years, the Falcons won their next eight games, including a rematch against the Bruins in the county championships. But while the offense carried the team for most of the season and especially during the winning streak, where five games were won by double digit goals, it was Shepard and the defense that held back Mount Hebron’s attack, limiting the Vikings to just one goal through the first three quarters.
The Falcons were up 8-2 in the fourth quarter when Mount Hebron began to make it more of a game, scoring four goals in about six minutes. But Nolan Zborai responded with a goal, after which he turned toward and shushed the Vikings’ crowd, putting any hopes of their team finishing a comeback out of reach.
“They worked their tails off all year,” said Falcons head coach Dave Earl. “With what they’ve been through the last couple years, with COVID and then the shortened season last year, for them to come out this season and just really give it their all. But really, they started to come together as a team probably two or three weeks ago and we started to see it click in the locker room and in practice and it really showed tonight.”
For players like Joaquin Villagomez and LaRocque, who have added to and continued the dynasty that has been built at Severna Park, winning a championship has become the expectation.
“It’s awesome just carrying the tradition all across these six years,” said LaRocque, a midfielder. “Kids want to keep coming and playing for this program. That’s what gives us fire and keeps us going every day in practice.”
But like all dynasties, there are some fears that they are aware of because of those expectations. “You don’t want to be the senior class that didn’t win the championship,” Villagomez said. “That’s what it’s become.”
The Falcons finished with a 16-4 record and scored 272 goals with 146 assists while allowing just 108 goals, with opponents exceeding 10 goals only four times all season long. Villagomez and Zborai led the team with 68 and 51 goals scored, respectively, along with 23 and 22 assists while Shepard had 113 saves.
Looking ahead to next season, the Falcons will pass the challenge to many new players. The top four scorers from this season were all seniors with Ganon Cope, a sophomore, and LaRocque, a junior, the next top scorers with 18 and 16 goals scored, along with Shepard returning to man the goal. Fourteen seniors will leave the program having never felt the sting of defeat in a state championship, a rare and unique accomplishment for a program that continues to fire on all cylinders.
“You always want to end the season this way,” Earl said. “Only one team gets to do that and I’m just really proud of these guys.”