WASHINGTON — A Canadian team won the first GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals, but it was impossible to avoid a little local flavor.
Hill Academy (Concord, Ontario) downed Georgetown Prep (Bethesda, Md.) 12-6 in Tuesday’s championship, which was twice delayed by lightning delays of about an hour.
Hill was led by sophomore attacker and Georgetown commit Dylan Watson, the game’s Most Valuable Player with four goals and both head coaches were former players at Georgetown University under former Georgetown coach Dave Urick. Hill coach Brodie Merrill was a two-time All-American at Georgetown in 2004 and 2005 and Georgetown Prep coach Scott Urick was a player for his father at Georgetown from 1997-2000 and even coached Merrill as an assistant there.
Merrill said that Watson responded to being moved up to the offense.
“Our starting lefty attacker broke his foot and couldn’t be with us this week,” Merrill said. “We started to get Dylan acclimated to the offense and it didn’t take him long. He established some great chemistry. He hit the ground running with them. As difficult as it was to lose Riley Curtis, the game presents you with opportunities.”
Junior midfielder Mike McCannell got Hill Academy (14-1) off to a good start, scoring two of the Pride’s first three goals and No. 2-seeded Hill took a 5-2 lead in the first quarter.
Georgetown Prep (14-6) scored first on a Jackson Luck shot just 1:06 into the game off a pass by Gavin Lindsay. Hill Academy was missing its lead face-off man, Justin Inacio, and the Hoyas had the early edge in face-offs, but that faded in the third quarter when Hill took control. Even when the Pride didn’t get the face-off, they quickly countered when they did take control on defense.
The, Hoyas, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, cut the lead to 5-3 off Luck’s second goal with 7:51 to go in the first half. Less than a minute later, however, Josh Sawada scored to put the Pride up 6-3 and the Hoyas never came closer than two goals after that. Luck had a third goal, with 6:10 remaining in the game on a two-man advantage, but by that point, Hill Academy led 12-6.
The weather stretched the game out a bit. With 2:51 to go in the first half, the stands and field were cleared because of lightning and the delay lasted 58 minutes. A second lightning delay late in the third quarter stopped the action again for just under an hour.
The Hoyas’ Lindsay punched in a power shot shortly after the first delay to cut the Pride’s lead to 7-4. When Hill Academy’s Matt Dillella was called for slashing just before the half, Georgetown Prep had a man advantage and converted right after halftime on a shot by Lindsay.
Hill answered again just a few minutes later as Carter Brand converted a Keegan Khan assist to go up 8-5.
“It was just a big momentum swing going our way,” Watson said. “Overall, it just brings up the team spirit.”
After the second lightning delay, Graydon Hogg put the nail in with a goal with 4:48 to go in the third quarter to put Hill up 9-5. Watson scored a short-handed goal to complete a hat trick with 3:06 to go in the third quarter. Brand completed the quarter’s scoring with a shovel shot that put the Pride up 11-5. Watson’s second goal of the second half came with Hill a man up.
The game was fairly clean until late in the second half when the rain began to come down steadily and tempers from both sides led to several penalties.
Scott Urick had scheduled a game in March with Hill Academy, but a snowstorm in Bethesda canceled that.
“When Brodie and I have a game scheduled, apparently, we’re going to see some of the elements,” Urick said. “I think so very highly of Brodie Merrill. I think he’s the single greatest lacrosse player to play our sport. He’s a much better person. That being said, I certainly wanted to win against him. It’s certainly more fun to win against your friends than lose to them.”