Conference play kicked off in the MIAA Tuesday, with NLFRankings.com No. 4 ranked Boys’ Latin (Md.) hosting No. 20 McDonogh (Md.).
The Lakers leaned on their defense and five points from standout sophomore Spencer Ford (Crabs) to lock down the Eagles to earn an important 8-6 league win against a top-ranked opponent.
Boys’ Latin held a 5-2 halftime lead, helped by a last second goal before the half from Ford on an assist from NLF No. 3 senior Dominic Pietramala (North Carolina) to establish the three-goal lead. In the second half, the Lakers’ defense locked down McDonogh’s offense to just three more goals despite a strong effort from NLF No. 1 junior McCabe Millon (Duke).
What Boys’ Latin’s defense couldn’t hold shots-wise, Laker goal Cardin Stoller would stop. Keeping his composure against a tough ride from McDonogh, the Rutgers signee by way of Team 91 Maryland finished with a game-high 12 saves.
“The defense has come a long way from the beginning of the year until now,” Stoller said. “Holding them to six against some really good dodgers is something I’m happy about.”
Led by Millon, McDonogh crawled back to within as close as two goals late in the game, but the Lakers’ offense, led by Ford, were able to answer the Eagles every time leading to the final.
Starting Off Right
With the win, the Lakers moved to 5-1, within their lone loss coming against No. 2 ranked St. John’s (D.C.) in the season opener. More importantly, the win gives Boys’ Latin an early edge in a tough conference against an Eagles team they’ll more than likely see again in the playoffs.
“It’s very important,” Boys’ Latin head coach Brian Farrell said. “It gives you a win and you’re able to dissect what you need to in order to be successful in this league. You take wins anytime, especially this year, there are some top-flight caliber teams.”
Photo courtesy of Colleen Pietramala.
Ford Goes Off
Though the field was littered with upperclass talent, it was Ford who excited the crowd enough to force a, “We Have Spencer!” chant from the student section.
Obviously, Ford can score. His buzzer beater off an assist from Pietramala to take a 5-2 lead into halftime was remarkable. Much more importantly, Farrell and his staff allow the sophomore to carry the ball during crucial situations when the opponent’s defensive pressure is pouring down on him.
“Spence is someone you trust with the ball in his stick already as a sophomore, so we wanted to make sure he had the ball and was making decisions at the end of the game,” Farrell said. “It’s cool to see because you know how hard he works and how hard he cares about the game.”
Farrell couldn’t help but elaborate on Ford’s game.
“He’s cool, he’s calm, he’s got tremendous vision. He understands the game really well. It’s nice to have a coach’s son on the team: you know they’ve been watching the game before awhile. They understand offense. In the end, he’s cool under pressure and that’s what you need in big-time games like this.”
Ford’s six-point day pushed his numbers to a remarkable 10-goal, 14-assist stat line, good enough for a crisp four points per game average.
Stoller’s Hot Hand
Stoller has played superbly for the Lakers in their early games. The future Scarlet Knight was a highlight in their lone loss to St. John’s, holding the Cadets to their lowest offensive output of the 2022 season.
Against McDonogh, Stoller made big saves late thanks to good positioning and strong hands, and communicated well with his defense during several long McDonogh possessions.
“Just staying calm,” Stoller said when asked what it takes to survive long offensive possessions as a defense. ”It’s tough when we get a save but we don’t clear. But playing together, talking up when we’re all tired, and staying calm [is important]. It shows.”
Big Day for Millon and Foster
Millon flashed the tools that have vaunted him to the No. 1 spot in the 2023 recruiting rankings. He’s strong, physical around the cage, goes for ground balls and, most importantly, scores on a variety of angles from inside positions. His four goals are a testament to his talent.
His defensive assignment wasn’t a slouch though. NLF No. 24 junior Kyle Foster, committed to Ohio State, leaned on his size and basketball-honed footwork to keep pace against one of the game’s top young players.
“I thought Kyle held his own. The stat sheet might not show that because I thought McCabe played really, really well, but Kyle held his own and he was supported,” Farrell said. “It didn’t matter who was dodging, who was hot, who were the twos, it was to support the on-ball carriers and support behind the goal too.”
Boys’ Latin 8, McDonogh 6
McDonogh 1 1 1 3 – 6
Boys’ Latin 3 2 2 1 – 8
McCabe Millon ’23 (NLF No. 1 ’23 / Team 91 Maryland / Duke) 4 goals
Luke Miller ’24 1 goal, 1 assist
Bogue Hahn ’25 (Team 91 Maryland) 1 goal
Teddy Scarborough ’23 6 saves
Boys’ Latin (5-1)
Spencer Ford ’24 (Crabs) 4 goals, 2 assists
Nicky Brown ’22 (Crabs / Jacksonville) 2 goals
Jackson Walsh ’23 (Crabs / Ohio State) 1 goal
Tyler Owings ’23 (Crabs / Delaware) 1 goal
Dominic Pietramala ’22 (NLF No. 3 ’22 / North Carolina) 2 assists
Jacob Pacheco ’23 (NLF No. 20 ’23 / Crabs / Penn) 2 assists
Hopper Zappitello ’22 (Crabs / Dartmouth) 1 assist
Connor Sydnor ’24 (Crabs) 1 assist
Cardin Stoller ’22 (Team 91 Maryland / Rutgers) 12 saves