'Set, see, save': Lancers goalie Levinson leads way to regional title

Linganore goalie Tucker Levinson had the look he liked early in the fourth quarter.

That was true throughout most of Monday’s Class 3A West Region I boys lacrosse final, but this one proved pivotal with Oakdale attempting to continue chipping away at the Lancers’ lead.

Bears sharpshooter Shaun Wright had the ball about 15 feet from the net but little room to release thanks to a suffocating Linganore defense. When he fired, Levinson swallowed it up, sending his teammates down the field.

That stop was one of 13 for Levinson, who played perhaps his best game to spur the Lancers to an 11-3 home win and their third straight region title.

“They were really trying to get me the shots I wanted to see,” Levinson said. “And I was like, all right, if they’re gonna give me the shots I want to see, I gotta use that to my advantage, save as many as I can.”

Levinson was particularly sharp in the opening and closing 12 minutes, posting shutouts in the first and fourth quarters.

The senior is in his first year as a starter, but those stops showed how little of a learning curve he had.

“He’s always been a heck of a goalie,” Linganore coach Rich Thompson said. “He finally got his shot, and he’s making the most of it.”

In turn, Levinson’s defense in front of him feeds off the energy from his saves. Most are routine, but on the occasion he’s faced with a one-on-one, he is patient and calm, leaning on a “set, see, save” mantra to put himself in the best position.

Levinson only had to bail the Lancers out a couple of times, including a point-blank stop at the first-quarter buzzer, but he was rewarded by his team as a result.

“It makes them want to work that much harder to make sure we’re not giving anything up that’s nice and easy for him,” Thompson said. “He played pretty good today.”

Levinson’s work in the cage led to occasional offensive spurts that proved more than enough to put away Oakdale. His stop on Wright early in the fourth quarter led to Linganore scoring four unanswered goals to double its lead and provide the final margin.

Cody Griffis had a hat trick to go with two assists for the Lancers (13-2). Marco LaRocco, Camo McGovern and Brian Bedard each scored twice, while LaRocco and McGovern added an assist each. Logan Cole and Camden Gregory also scored.

“I think it’s the balance of our team, especially offensively. … It’s not one guy scoring 100 goals, which we’ve had in the past and is nice, I’d love to have,” Thompson said. “We have a group there that’s spreading the wealth around, and they’re getting really good at sharing the ball right now.”

That group is kickstarted by senior Aidan Maloney, who’s become an ace in the faceoff circle. He won 15 faceoffs Monday, tilting possession in Linganore’s favor.

“Facing off is like a rock, paper, scissors game, you gotta adjust based off what your opponent is doing,” Maloney said. “It allows us to have make-it, take-it. We score, we get the ball back, we score, and the defense gets tired, especially by the fourth quarter, it creates a big advantage.”

The Bears (9-5) were clearly wiped out after giving the Lancers their best shot for the second time this season.

Avery Linthicum made 21 saves in net as he was under siege most of the afternoon. Christian Bass, Brady Ryan and Wright scored.

“Things just didn’t go our way tonight,” Oakdale coach Dale Kowatch said. “We had about 25 shots, when our goal is usually 40 or more. We had 13 or 15 turnovers, so that didn’t help, but I think this is a special group of guys. … They left their mark on the program.”