May 21, 2018

Boys lax: Ross goes out with a bang, leads Linganore to 3A/2A state crown

Left to right: Linganore's Anthony Sparacino, Daniel Murphy, and Daniel Ross hoist the Class 3A/2A state championship plaque. Photo taken by Alycia Weaver/Maryland Sports Access.

OWINGS MILLS — When the five year layoff between school state championships came to a glorious halt, the Linganore boys lacrosse team unhesitatingly bolted to the student section as if it were instinctual.

Adrenalized to the buzz of the red sea, players engulfed the south corner of Mustang Stadium at Stevenson University. Some heaved into the arms of the students up above, while others clinched their fists, pumping it in the air.

Daniel Ross stood on the turf field, eyes watery, arms spread wide and index fingers pointing to the crowd that wanted his attention after leading Linganore to a 9-7 win over Mt. Hebron in the Class 3A/2A state championship.

“It was just a surreal moment,” Ross said after scoring five of his teams nine goals on Tuesday evening. “We brought it back to the boys on the team, but at the same time, we brought it back to our community. We put Linganore High School back on the map in the lacrosse world. It was an incredible moment, something I will never forget.”

Ross caps off a four year varsity career that has nearly eclipsed 250 career points, including 58 goals and 31 assists to round out the 2016 campaign. He could go down as one of, if not the greatest attackman to come through the county of Frederick — maybe even the state of Maryland — and if an argument is to be made, he topped his tenure off with a bang along with some hardware.

On Saturday, Ross heroically launched the game-winning goal with 1.6 seconds left to break a 10-10 tie against Northern Calvert. On Tuesday evening, Ross would display more fireworks that smothered another opposition’s state championship aspirations.

In the throes of a hard-charging Mt. Hebron team that capped Linganore to all but three offensive possessions in the third quarter, and suppressed most of the Lancers’ chances in the early minutes of the fourth, Ross shuffled from behind the net to back down a pair of defenders jabbing away at the Army commit.

Pealing left, he then baffled his two defenders by flicking a behind-the-back shot over his right shoulder past Vikings standout goaltender Casey DuBois with 6 minutes and 9 seconds to go. His surefire highlight that could very well appear on SportsCenter’s Top 10 gave Linganore an 8-6 lead, and proved to be the game-winning goal.

“That kid, he’s a stud,” said Mt. Hebron head coach Mike McCarthy of Ross.

It’s a shot many teams don’t gameplan for, yet, Ross confidently holsters in his bag of tricks for moments like that.

“The opportunity has to present itself,” Ross said.

At halftime, Linganore possessed 4-0 lead due in large part to their ability to exploit vast depth to maximization. Ross and Daniel Murphy both contributed to the hot start with a pair of goals.

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Daniel Ross (right) concludes his storied senior campaign with 58 goals. Photo taken by Alycia Weaver/Maryland Sports Access.

“We knew immediately then that we could do this,” Ross said of the 4-0 start. “We felt that we were the better team. We came out fast.”

While Ross carried the offensive load with finesse for Linganore this year, Murphy complimented the savvy West Point commit with a brand of scrappiness and grit that generated almost the same production. He finished the year with 52 goals and 11 assists while picking up over 50 percent of ground balls. A year ago, Murphy transferred back into his public school from Calvert Hall and will never regret doing so.

“It’s the best feeling you could ever imagine, being back with my friends,” Murphy said. “That was the fun part, being back with my friends and playing the sport that I love. Adding a state championship to it, I don’t even have words for it.”

Daniel Murphy works the middle of the field in Tuesday's state championship contest against Mt. Hebron. Photo taken by Alycia Weaver/Maryland Sports Access.
Daniel Murphy works the middle of the field in Tuesday’s state championship contest against Mt. Hebron. Photo taken by Alycia Weaver/Maryland Sports Access.

Mt. Hebron held Linganore in check for much of the third quarter, taking advantage of weak spots in the defense resulted from late positioning as they would go on a 5-2 run to bring the contest to within one heading into the final frame.

Though Linganore supplied enough depth to overwhelm their opponents all year long, they claim it was their tight-knit bond that meshed the talent with execution.

“We came out and feared nobody this year,” Ross said. “We came together and comforted each other before games when we all were anxious. I don’t think we could have calmed our nerves if we didn’t have brothers on the team like we do.”

In a game that totaled 16 goals, it was mostly ruled by opposing goaltenders trading saves, sprawling for every inch. Linganore’s Kyle Browne out-dueled Mt. Hebron’s Casey DuBois on paper, with Browne turning away 15 shots and DuBois making 12 saves.

Before every road game, head coach Rich Thompson gathers his team together for a meeting and senses the vibe that’s generated. On Tuesday, he immediately knew fate was going to be on their side.

“I saw a room full of focused young men that just had win in their eyes,” Thompson said.

Setup man Jordan Swoyer recorded two assists and finishes the year with 26 goals and 49 assists. Brett Cruickshank scored his 32nd goal of the season with 1:37 remaining in the third quarter. Alex Martinazzi extended Linganore’s lead to two goals with 8 minutes and 14 seconds to go on a feed from Ross.

“I preached to them that they were destined for a state championship as long as the coaches didn’t mess it up,” head coach Rich Thompson said. “We had a lot of talent, a lot of talent.”

It’s safe to say the Lancer coaching did more than their part, playing a large hand to the 19-1 record and second state championship (2011, 2016) in the schools history for boys lacrosse. In the end, Thompson had high praise for his staff.

“Stan Swoyer, our assistant coach, just works ridiculous amounts,” Thompson said. “Dave Stieren takes care of our defense for us. We brought in Steve Browne, he’s a goalie guy to work with his son. All those guys work 40 to 50 hours a week on lacrosse, and they all have other jobs. They were taking off work to get to practices.”

When the buzzer sounded the end of an impeccable journey, Browne took the final save he made with 3 seconds left and pitched it in the air. Then followed a dog-pile that mounded on the north end of Mustang Stadium.

The Lancers reached the mountain top and were crowned state champions once again.

“Since freshman year, this whole experience has been mountaintop,” Ross said. “We weren’t the best freshman year, we were a little better sophomore year, we were a little better junior year, and senior year we reached the top. It was an incredible journey with my coaches and teammates, and I couldn’t be more blessed to have a squad like that.”

About Kyle McFadden 416 Articles
Kyle McFadden is a graduate from Linganore High School's Class of 2014, a sports junkie and general news-hound. He got his start as a sports writer in January 2014 for Linganore's student-run newspaper The Lance, where he wrote 13 articles. McFadden then launched his own blog in October 2014 called The Beltway Dispatch covering collegiate, local high school and professional sports. Formally known as The Beltway Dispatch, McFadden and Evan Engelhard merged respective platforms in June 2015 to make what is now Maryland Sports Access. With baseball, basketball and golf experience, McFadden brings ample knowledge to the helm of MSA. McFadden covers a wide variety of sports in football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and specializes in the collegiate and high school levels. McFadden volunteers his time at Damascus Road Community Church -- serving as a mentor to the youth, basketball coach at the varsity and junior varsity levels, and leads a small group of high school sophomores every Wednesday night. Although he's only been around journalism since January 2014, he's a high school sports reporter for The Baltimore Sun and freelancer for The Frederick News-Post. McFadden's work has also appeared in DMV newspapers The Aegis, The Capital Gazette, The Daily Times (Delmarva Now), The Hometown Observer, Howard County Times, Germantown Pulse and The Towson Times. He's also won two Mike Powell Excellence in Journalism awards and has appeared on The Best of SNO, which showcases top student work of high school and college journalists. McFadden currently studies at Frederick Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2018 to work on a bachelor's degree in journalism with aspirations to be a national college basketball writer.
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