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Is Thrill of NFL football gone in Baltimore? Has the purple era of civic love ended for the Ravens?

Posted on 19 December 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

PART 1: The Ghost Of Baltimore Football Past

The empty seats and the many unused tickets at Ravens games are no longer “breaking news” in Baltimore. Swaths of shiny purple seatbacks at M&T Bank have been without derrieres this fall and everyone, it seems, has a different excuse, reason or rage toward the football team that has delivered two joyous parades for the metropolis so far this century after the lost NFL generation between the Ravens and the Colts.

The truth is obvious to any of us who watched Ray Lewis dance The Squirrel for 17 years and its accompanying roar in a bursting fit of civic celebration for all to cheer and emulate. It’s clear that the fanaticism that spawned a generation of fans in Baltimore is now waning.

For many, the thrill is gone.

And it happened so quickly.

Tens of thousands of Baltimore Ravens ticket holders – vested by PSLs purchased two decades ago for the price of a nice vacation week in Ocean City – are staying away, and from my vantage point are protesting more than just “The Knee” or the political statements of players of color in the NFL.

The fans, even with the money already sunk on their credit cards months ago, are saying “Bah! Humbug!” to the Baltimore Ravens as we enter 2018. And the arc of the glorious purple football honeymoon, which seemed to last a good generation after Art Modell brought the Cleveland Browns to the Charm City, is now gone – evaporated amidst the empty patches throughout the stadium and the long line of ticket sellers on everyone’s social media threads.

I own two PSLs in Section 513. I lovingly called them “Poor Suckers Licenses” on the radio to David Modell’s face 20 years ago. I paid $500 each. I have now purchased somewhere around 220 Ravens game tickets since 1996. It’s almost like a $2.50 per game “surcharge” at this point. As I pointed out then, it was simply the small upfront cost of having NFL football for everyone in Baltimore and Maryland who wanted it. I never saw it as “an investment” but I also never tried to sell my PSL after the Super Bowl wins, when apparently they held strong value.

This three-part series is about the obvious issues the Baltimore Ravens are facing – on and off the field and many of the issues are similar in other cities around the NFL that would prefer full stadiums and fervor but instead settle for massive television revenue. This civic nonchalance has spread into a community that has become somnambulant about what used to stir passions to fight men from Pittsburgh – or anywhere the Ravens purple name was disparaged.

I will be the first to tell you that I don’t have any answers or fast solutions for the Baltimore Ravens and their beleaguered front office and ownership. Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass and everyone in charge in Owings Mills are keenly aware of all of the issues I’ll address. Many season ticket holders have been called. Letters have been written. Opinions have been expressed in many directions. I’m sure you’ve seen them on your social media thread as well. Everyone has at least one “outraged” Ravens fan and civic patriot in their universe.

At some point, the season ticket renewals will be coming in February and March and the folks who individually write the checks for the tickets will vote their conscience and wallet.

Candidly, the Ravens spend most of their time working on the only thing that they can’t fully control

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Phelps’ comeback to continue next week in Charlotte

Posted on 07 May 2014 by WNST Staff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — (AP) Next up for Michael Phelps’ comeback: Two events that produced Olympic gold.

Phelps has entered the 100-meter butterfly and the 200 freestyle at the Charlotte Grand Prix meet in North Carolina next week, his coach, Bob Bowman, told The Associated Press on Monday night.

With both events on May 16, Bowman can stick to the plan of building up Phelps’ endurance while staying away, at least for now, from the grueling, multi-day programs that were once the norm for Phelps. There will be morning preliminaries and evening finals, though the coach said he’s not yet certain Phelps will actually compete in both races.

Phelps returned to competitive swimming at a meet in Arizona less than two weeks ago, his first since retiring after the 2012 London Games as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.

He is the three-time defending Olympic champion in the 100 fly, so it’s obvious that race would be part of any plans to compete at the Rio Games. He won the 200 free at the 2008 Beijing Games — during his record eight-gold performance — but dropped the event in London.

Phelps also competed in two events at the Mesa Grand Prix, finishing second to longtime rival Ryan Lochte in the 100 fly and matching the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. The other event, the 50 freestyle, wasn’t nearly as serious. That race has never been part of Phelps’ program at a major meet, and he even used his preliminary heat to work on his butterfly stroke. Not surprisingly, he finished 42nd overall against swimmers who were using the much faster freestyle.

Still, it was a good starting point for what the Phelps’ camp is describing as a low-key comeback.

“We were encouraged by his performances in Mesa and look forward to trying a 200 in Charlotte,” Bowman said in a text message.

Phelps has also put his name in for the final Grand Prix meet of the season in Santa Clara, California, next month, though he is taking the comeback one step at a time and not committing to any long-term goals.

Still, it’s clear he wouldn’t be putting in the work if the 2016 Olympics were not his primary focus. Phelps has already competed in four Summer Games, winning 18 golds and 22 medals overall.

The Grand Prix schedule provides tuneups for the U.S. national championships in August, where spots will be earned for the Pan Pacific Championships later that month and next year’s world championships in Kazan, Russia — an important steppingstone for the Olympics.

After the Charlotte meet, Phelps will head to Colorado for high-altitude training beginning May 27.

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Former Towson G Neal returns to playoffs with Bobcats

Posted on 17 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Former Towson guard to make fourth straight playoff appearance

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Towson men’s basketball standout Gary Neal will be participating in the NBA playoffs for the fourth straight season in 2014.

After competing in the playoffs for the last three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, this year Neal will get a taste of the Eastern Conference playoffs with the Charlotte Bobcats.

The seventh-seeded Bobcats will face the two-time defending NBA Champion and second-seeded Miami Heat in the first round. The opening game of the series is set for Sunday, April 20 at 3:30 p.m. and will air on ABC.

Neal is averaging 10.5 points per game this season while spending time with both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Bobcats. The fourth-year pro scored in double figures in six of the final eight games of the regular season.

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Former Terp Esiason honored as ACC legend

Posted on 07 December 2013 by WNST Staff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Former Maryland standout quarterback Boomer Esiason was honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday as a member of its Football Legends Class of 2013 in a ceremony at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte for the ninth annual Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship.

Esiason also received recognition during the ACC Night of Legends event held Friday evening.

A two-time honorable mention All-American (1982, 1983) and three-year starter from 1981-83, Esiason led the Terps to a perfect 6-0 record in the ACC in 1983 to claim the school’s first conference title since 1976 and a spot in the Florida Citrus Bowl. That season, Esiason and the Terps won seven of their first eight games to climb to seventh in the nation, while Esiason threw for a school-record 2,322 yards.

A member of the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team, Esiason broke several offensive records during his time in College Park including completions, touchdowns and yards. Over three seasons, Esiason completed 461 of his 850 passes for 6,259 yards and 42 touchdowns, and still ranks second all-time in touchdowns, and third in attempts, completions and yards.

During his junior season in 1982, Esiason threw for 2,302 yards and a school-record 18 touchdowns to lead the Terps to an 8-4 mark and a 5-1 record in the ACC, one win shy of the conference crown, to finish the season ranked 20th nationally earning an invitation to the Aloha Bowl. Esiason led an offense that averaged 31 points a game, the highest average for a Maryland team since 1951.

Esiason played 14 seasons in the National Football League spending 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals in two stints. In 1988, Esiason earned league MVP honors and was named an All-Pro. He was also named to the Pro Bowl four times.

In 14 seasons in the NFL, Esiason completed 57 percent of his passes for 37,920 yards with 247 touchdowns.

The native of East Islip, N.Y., is currently a studio analyst for The NFL Today on CBS, is a color analyst for WestwoodOne’s radio broadcast of Monday Night Football and co-hosts a long-running and top-rated morning radio show, “Boomer and Carton,” on WFAN the Fan in New York City.

In 1993, after his son Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, Esiason created the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which has raised in excess of $100 million to fund research to find a cure for the disease of the respiratory and digestive systems. In 1995, he was honored with the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his community service.

Esiason is Maryland’s final member of the ACC Football Legends. The Terps transition to the Big Ten in the 2014 season.

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Terps picked to finish 7th in preseason ACC poll

Posted on 17 October 2013 by WNST Staff

Duke Picked As ACC Basketball Preseason Favorite;  Fair voted Preseason Player of Year; Parker tabbed for Rookie honor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke will enter the 2013-14 season as the Atlantic Coast Conference favorite, according to a vote of media in attendance at the league’s annual “Operation Basketball.”

The Blue Devils, who return starting guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon from last season’s 30-6 NCAA Regional finalist, and whose highly-touted group of newcomers includes sophomore transfer Rodney Hood and freshman Jabari Parker, received 50 of 54 first-place votes in a preseason poll of media in attendance at Wednesday’s event.

ACC newcomer Syracuse (three first-place votes) placed second in the voting, followed by North Carolina (one first-place vote) and Virginia. Notre Dame placed fifth, followed by Pittsburgh, Maryland and Boston College. Florida State placed ninth, followed by NC State, Georgia Tech, defending ACC champion Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

Syracuse senior forward C.J. Fair, who led the Orange in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg) last season, received the nod as ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Fair received 17 votes in the Player of the Year balloting, edging Virginia senior Joe Harris (16 votes) by one. Duke’s Parker, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward from Chicago, was the overwhelming choice as ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year on 52 of the 54 ballots cast. Fair, Harris, Parker, Hood and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant were selected as the Preseason All-ACC Team.

Duke was picked as an ACC preseason favorite for the 14t time in the 45-year history of the poll and for the 13th time under current head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke was last tabbed as the favorite prior to the 2010-11 season, which saw the Blue Devils finish second in the regular-season standings but capture their league-record 19th ACC Tournament title.

With Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse joining the ACC last July 1, the conference now boasts 15 members. In addition to an 18-game regular-season conference schedule, the 61st annual ACC Tournament will consist of 14 games and will be played from Wednesday through Sunday (March 12-16). ACC teams open regular-season play the weekend of Nov. 8.

ACC Operation Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Poll
(First-place votes in parenthesis)

Team     Points
1. Duke (50)        805
2. Syracuse (3)   753
3. North Carolina (1)       668
4. Virginia            612
5. Notre Dame  608
6. Pitt    477
7. Maryland        473
8. Boston College             457
9. Florida State  334
10. NC State       332
11. Georgia Tech              311
12. Miami            224
13. Wake Forest               220
14. Clemson       141
15. Virginia Tech               65

2013-14 Preseason All-ACC Team
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Joe Harris, Virginia
Rodney Hood, Duke
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Jabari Parker, Duke

ACC Preseason Player of the Year
C.J. Fair, Syracuse

ACC Rookie of the Year
Jabari Parker, Duke

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Former Greyhound Sawyer sets new world record for fastest lacrosse shot

Posted on 13 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Sawyer’s 114 MPH Shot Sets Record, Wins MLL All-Star Competition


CHARLOTTE – Mike Sawyer, who graduated from Loyola University Maryland in May after tallying the second-most goals in school Division I history, broke the Major League Lacrosse fastest shot record, stinging the net with a 114 mile-per-hour heater on Saturday night to win the MLL Fastest Shot Contest in the league’s All-Star Game.

Earlier in the competition, Sawyer set a record at 113 MPH. His 114 MPH shot is being termed a world record, breaking the previous best of 111 MPH set by Paul Rabil in 2009 at the same competition

Sawyer, a rookie for the Charlotte Hounds, was shooting in front of his hometown fans at American Legion Stadium. He grew up in nearby Waxhaw, N.C., and prepped at Charlotte Catholic High School.

After being selected in the first round, eighth overall, of the MLL Collegiate Entry Draft in January, Sawyer has scored 13 points through seven professional games this season, winning Cascade Rookie of the Week honors four times.

Sawyer finished his Loyola career with 128 goals and 154 points, good for second and eighth, respectively, in Loyola’s Division I career history.

The three-time USILA All-American tallied a team-high 36 goals in his senior season and finished his collegiate career with six-straight multi-goal game, including a stretch of four in a row with three or more.

Watch Sawyer’s shot on Major League Lacrosse’s Vine video.

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Bayhawks drop OT battle in Charlotte

Posted on 22 June 2013 by WNST Staff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Attackman Ryan Young scored an unassisted goal off a rebound to lift the Charlotte Hounds to a 16-15 victory over the Chesapeake Bayhawks on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

Chesapeake captured the face-off to start overtime and had first opportunity to end the sudden death session. Grant drove in from behind and got off an 8-yard shot that was wide. Attackman Drew Westervelt collected the rebound and two quick passes put the ball in the stick of midfielder Kyle Dixon, whose crank shot was stuffed by Charlotte goalieAdam Ghitelman.

Veteran attackman Matt Danowki then drove to goal-line extended and fired a sidearm shot that went wide, but somehow the ball bounced right into the stick of Young, who beat an unsuspecting Turner with a quick-stick shot from right on the doorstep.

“I think we’re all frustrated with losing so many close games, but I think we turned the corner tonight on a lot of fronts,” Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said. “I thought we shared the ball better than we have been and fought really hard. We played well enough to win this game. It’s a bittersweet loss, but in my mind a step forward.”

Grant and Westervelt both posted hat tricks for Chesapeake, which has lost four of five since starting the season 3-0. Midfielder Michael Kimmel fired in a pair of two-point goals while Dixon dished off four assists for the Bayhawks, who were beaten 19-12 on face-offs.

Midfielder Steven Brooks scored two unassisted goals for Chesapeake in the opening frame. Kimmel opened the second quarter with a 2-pointer, rocketing an overhand shot into the top right corner of the cage. Dixon then delivered beautiful passes to set up midfielder Ben Hunt and Westervelt for goals while midfielder Matt Mackrides scored unassisted off a tremendous individual move to put the Bayhawks ahead 8-4. Those three goals came in the span of 1:10.

Kimmel blasted his second 2-pointer past Ghitelman to give Chesapeake its largest lead of the game at 10-5. Midfielders accounted for 11 points in the first half for the Bayhawks, who outscored the Hounds 7-2 in the second stanza.

Charlotte regrouped at halftime and controlled the third quarter, outscoring Chesapeake by a 6-3 count.

Danowski connected on both of his 2-pointers during the comeback, which pulled Charlotte to within one at 13-12. A play that typified the type of night it was for the Bayhawks came when Dixon had a laser 2-point shot carom off the post and back toward midfield.

“I think we got a bit unlucky tonight. There were several times when the ball just didn’t bounce our way,” Cottle said.

Grant scored unassisted goals off spectacular shots to answer Charlotte tallies and retie the contest at 14-14 and 15-15. The 259th goal of Grant’s career came when he bull-dodged defenseman Joe Cinosky then performed a nifty inside roll.

Turner made an outstanding save on an inside shot by midfielder Peet Poillon with 1:18 remaining and the Bayhawks gained a power play two seconds later when Danowski committed a penalty during the subsequent ride. However, a shot by Hunt went wide and the Bayhawks were unable to get off another attempt before time expired.

Turner turned in another tremendous performance with 20 saves. Attackman Ben Rubeor was held scoreless, snapping his 36-game streak of getting at least one point. The Bayhawks wound up getting 14 points out of the midfield, which was a positive.

“I thought Kyle Dixon played very well and did a good job of finding open men. Brooks, Kimmel and Hunt all played better than they have been,” Cottle said.

Chesapeake was a bit short-handed on the defensive end with top close defenseman Michael Evans and short stick defensive midfielder Jeff Reynolds both sitting out with injuries. Barney Ehrmann, who replaced Evans on close defense, had to leave the game with cramps at one point – as did long stick defensive midfielder Michael Simon. Close defenseman Brian Spallina also got nicked up during the contest.

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Former Loyola star Sawyer shines in MLL debut

Posted on 20 May 2013 by WNST Staff

Sawyer Earns MLL Rookie Of The Week After First Game
CHARLOTTE — Former Loyola University Maryland men’s lacrosse standout had a big two days this weekend. Friday, the Waxhaw, N.C., native made his Major League Lacrosse debut for his hometown Charlotte Hounds, and Saturday he earned his Loyola degree.
In his professional debut, Sawyer scored a goal and assisted on two more, earning MLL Rookie of the Week honors Monday afternoon.
Sawyer, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in communications with an emphasis in public relations and marketing, made his Charlotte debut on Friday against the Hamilton Nationals, a team for whom another Saturday graduate of Loyola — defender Reid Acton — was making his first professional appearance.
His first assist came just over eight minutes into the second quarter as he fed Jovan Miller for the fifth goal in a 6-0 Charlotte run.
He then scored his first professional goal 44 seconds into the fourth quarter with the feed coming out of a familiar stick, that of fellow Loyola alumnus Eric Lusby. Sawyer then assisted another Miller goal in the final minutes of regulation, helping Charlotte pull within a goal of the Nationals. The Hounds would eventually tie the game before falling in overtime.
Sawyer’s three points are thus far tops amongst MLL rookies. He was the eighth-overall pick in the first round of this year’s MLL Collegiate Draft by Charlotte.
He wrapped up his Loyola career as the school’s second-leading goal scorer in Division I history. He compiled 128 goals and 154 points during his four years on the Evergreen campus. Sawyer was a three-time All-ECAC honoree and a 2012 USILA Second Team All-American. In 2013, he tallied 36 goals and seven assists in 14 games.
The Greyhounds made a significant impact on the box score Friday afternoon. In addition to Sawyer’s goal and two assists, Lusby had two goals and an assist, and Steve Dircks ’11 picked up six ground balls.

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Loyola hero Lusby headed to MLL

Posted on 06 June 2012 by WNST Staff

CHARLOTTE – Less than 10 days after leading the Loyola University Maryland men’s lacrosse team to its first-ever national title, NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Player Eric Lusby has been claimed by Major League Lacrosse’s Charlotte Hounds and will make his professional debut later this month.

Lusby set the NCAA Championships scoring record with 17 goals in four games, tallying at least three in each as Loyola defeated Canisius, Denver, Notre Dame and Maryland to claim the school’s first NCAA Division I title. He tallied five against both the Pioneers and Fighting Irish and then had four in the title game against the Terrapins on May 28.

He will remain a Hound at the professional level after Charlotte, which is in its first year as an expansion franchise, claimed him on the waiver wire.

“It has always been something I have wanted to do, play professional lacrosse and with the best players everywhere,” Lusby said. “This has probably been the best six months of my entire life, the success we’ve had, the time with the coaches and then winning a national championship.

“I want to thank all of the coaches at Loyola. Coach (Dan) Chemotti changed the offense a little bit this year, and it was such a fun year to be able to play in that. This was the best five years of my life, and I have my coaches and teammates to thank for that.”

Lusby’s run in the NCAA Championships capped a stellar season put together after recovering from an ACL injury to his right knee that held him out of all but two games in 2011. As a junior, Lusby injured his knee in the NCAA First Round at Cornell in May 2010, and an attempt to return togame action last season came to a close after just two games.

The Severna Park, Md., native received a medical redshirt from the NCAA and after graduating from Loyola in May 2011 with his degree in finance, he returned to action as a graduate student this season.

At his natural position of attack, Lusby became one of the top snipers in the college game, finishing sixth in Division I in goals pergame (2.84). He finished the year with 54 goals scored, a single-season record at Loyola that eclipsed the 50 scored by MLL all-time goal scored leader Tim Goettelmann in 2000 and the 52 by his teammate Mike Sawyer this year.

Lusby and Sawyer became the first pair of Loyola teammates to score 50 or more goals in a season and the first at the NCAA level since Duke’s Max Quinzani and Zach Howell in 2010, a pair of teammates who also won an NCAA title.

Lusby posted hat tricks in 11 games this season after entering the year with just two in his first three season at Loyola. He scored two or more goals in 14 of the Greyhounds’ 19 contests in 2012, helping the team tie an NCAA Division I record with 18 victories. Lusby also posted two or more assists five times this year and finished with a team-leading 71 points as his 17 assists were second-most on the team.

His 71 points are the most by a Loyola player since the Greyhounds joined Division I for the 1982 season, and they are the fourth-most all-time in school history.

Lusby was undrafted in the 2012 MLL entry draft following his injury, but he was the top pick on the waiver wire this year by the Hounds. He will join an offense that features the likes of Stephen Berger, Matt Danowski, Jeremy Boltus and Billy Bitter.

Charlotte’s roster also includes former Loyola standout Andrew Spack, a midfielder who graduated in 2007.

Lusby will most likely begin his time with the Hounds when Charlotte hosts the MLL Champion Boston Cannons on Saturday, May 16. The Cannons feature one of Lusby’s former Loyola teammates, All-Star defender P.T. Ricci.

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Stevenson tops Denison, third date with Salisbury in NCAA semis looms

Posted on 16 May 2012 by WNST Staff

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Stevenson men’s lacrosse junior Tyler Reid (Clinton, Conn./Xavier) totaled six points with five goals and one assist, breaking the school’s NCAA Tournament record for goals as the No. 5 Mustangs advanced to semifinals of the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship with a 14-7 victory over No. 8 Denison Wednesday at Mustang Stadium.

With the win, Stevenson (18-4) improved to 13-1 at home this season and advanced to its third national semfinal in four NCAA Tournament appearances. The team is also one win shy of the school record for wins in a season set in 2010.

The win also sets up a third meeting between the Mustangs and rival Salisbury for the third time this season. Sunday’s game will mark the ninth meeting between the schools in the last three seasons and the third in last four in the NCAA Tournament.

For Reid, he now has 19 goals in five games in the NCAA Tournament, breaking the school record held by Richie Ford who had 15 in eight games.

The Mustangs jumped out to a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter and held an 8-3 advantage at the half. In 22 games this season, Stevenson has outscored its opponents 131-57 in the first half, including 80-27 in the second quarter.

Reid scored four of his five goals in the first half, including three in-a-row to end the second quarter.

Denison (15-2), who suffered both of its losses this season at Mustang Stadium, pulled within four on Alex Hardt’s 37th goal of the season with 10:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. Both teams would exchange goals over the next two minutes before the Mustangs finished the game by netting the final three to send the team to its third semifinals.

Freshman Stephen Banick (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte) finished with four goals while senior Nick Rossi (Lutherville, Md./Towson) had two goals and one assist and sophomore Chris Dashiell (Salisbury, Md./Parkside) had one goal and two assists.

Senior Justin Lea (Elkridge, Md./Mount Saint Joseph) also scored two goals.

Senior Ian Bolland (Mountain Lakes, N.J./Mountain Lakes) totaled 11 saves to lead the defense while junior Kyle Fendlay (Westminster, Md./Winters Mill) and junior Peter Green (Hereford, Md./Hereford) each had three caused turnovers.

Hardt finished with three goals to lead the Big Red while Cory Couture had two goals and one assist. Nick Petracca was credited with 15 saves.

Sunday’s semifinal game time between Stevenson and Salisbury will be announced on Thursday.

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