It had been a long wait for the Baltimore Crabs and Team 91 Maryland 2022 before they were able to play their first game of the summer because of the coronavirus, so of course, it was only fitting that the two neighborhood rivals found themselves in overtime Saturday afternoon at Troy Park.
Travis Smith didn’t need a second opportunity to be the hero in overtime, though. Smith was the beneficiary of a double team sent teammate Matt McMillen‘s way, and once McMillen zipped a pass over to Smith, the John Carroll (Md.) midfielder found himself with nothing but green in front of him through the five-hole to give the Crabs a 10-9 win to open the summer.
“It was the same offense we ran all day, and everyone slid to Matt and I was wide open,” Smith said. “I had a bunch of space and I just took it, saw the lane and scored it. It was awesome. It’s been a long wait to come back.”
The coronavirus wiped out the bulk of the country’s entire spring, with some MIAA schools getting in a game or two before having to shut it down. For the most part, though, it meant that no one had had an opportunity to go up against someone different than their teammates in practice, so Saturday’s game, organized by 91 Maryland director and Hall of Fame player Mark Millon, was a more-than-welcome opportunity.
“We know these guys, and it’s been months since our last club game, and we knew we were going to have to come back and give it our all,” Crabs goalie Tommy Lubin (Calvert Hall, Md.) said. “We started pretty strong, they came back a little bit and at the end, we pulled through because we’ve been in these situations before.”
“For me, one of the hardest things in coming back was the speed,” 91 Maryland 2023 attackman McCabe Millon (McDonogh, Md.) added. “You can go out and shoot for hours on end, but there’s no way to replicate running down the alley and a hard slide coming out to you. It felt great to get back out there, though.”
The Crabs’ offensive bellcow came in the form of McMillen, the No. 12-ranked player in the NLF’s 2022 rankings. The McDonogh junior stands out immediately because he just looks the part of a next-level midfielder, and he was able to lead the charge offensively. He uncorked a high-to-high rocket from eight yards out to open the scoring.
“We found them sliding from the midfield, so I just knew if I faded, it’d be wide open on the backside,” McMillen said. “We moved it well and I got it on the backside, and I was lucky enough to bury it.”
What stood out about McMillen was his ability to get defenses to pay attention to him on the dodge. His downhill dodges led to hockey assists at 54:18 and 1:05:20 in the game stream link above, where you can see that his ability to get to near the net caused 91 Maryland to slide out of position. On the game-winning goal, 91 Maryland’s defensive midfielder comes across the field to double him, and he calmly tosses the ball over to Smith to set up the game-winner.
“I was so anxious to finally be able to get out here,” McMillen said. “We’ve been shooting a lot, but it’s so nice to be able to go contact and play against another team and be competitive and want to win. I really missed that and this was fun.”
“In overtime, I had faith in our FOGO (Griffin Shaffer) and our coach made a great call to call timeout and we just executed. We went hard and (Smith) ended up burying the ball.”
For as good as McMillen was, it was a player on the losing end that might have been the best player for either team. 91 Maryland LSM Will Schaller (Hill School, Pa.), the No. 20 prospect in the class, was a monster for Millon’s crew. He was consistently disruptive with his stick, came away with a couple of caused turnovers and seemed to be involved in every ground ball in the middle of the field. Once you find out he’s also a standout hockey player, Schaller’s stickwork and toughness make a ton of sense, and with more games like that, it won’t be surprising to see him in high demand when Division I coaches can reach out to him.
“I think sometimes, you get lucky, and sometimes, guys around you enable you to be opportunistic,” Schaller said. “I’m so grateful that I have those five other guys around me. They make me better every day, and I try do to the same for them. They mean the world to me. I’ve been lucky that (fellow LSM) Jonny (Cool, the class’ No. 11 prospect from McDonogh), (defenseman) Malachi (Jones, the class’ No. 25 prospect, also from McDonogh) and myself have been able to enjoy things that not other players were as fortunate to experience. I’m grateful for that every day for all of the guys around me – (Nathan) Crouse (Boys’ Latin, Md.), Jordan (Beck from Calvert Hall, Md.), the goalies and our defensive coaches – enable us to be the best players and best people we can be. It’s all you can ask for.”
Other Standouts from Crabs vs. Team 91 Maryland
Hugh Brown, midfield, Crabs / McDonogh (Md.) – No. 58 player in the class. Highlights.
Brown has had a reputation as one of the top players in the ’22 class for years, and he more than backed it up against 91 by pocketing a pair of goals and adding a pair of assists. His first goal had him simply run by highly-touted LSM and McDonogh teammate Jonny Cool before ripping a bouncer home, and he added another tally in transition (at 56:43 of the game stream link). He has a heavy shot, particularly when he’s headed downhill, and he’s got the quickness and agility to separate from almost anyone. Brown still does his best work in transition as he’s almost impossible to slow down in the open field, and his tenacity, aggressiveness and temperament help him be a well-rounded midfielder.
McCabe Millon ’23, attack, Team 91 Maryland / McDonogh (Md.) – Highlights.
Millon, the son of Mark Millon, figures to be one of the most sought-after recruits in the ’23 class. It’s clear that he got his father’s lacrosse IQ and offensive abilities, and he put up a goal and four assists to pace the 91 offense. He’s an attackman that’s comfortable anywhere on the field, showing the ability and vision to run things from X, pop out to the wing or even get downhill from up top, like he does in the video below to set up teammate Jake Bair (St. Paul’s, Md.) for a goal.
… and you can also see Millon operating well behind the cage to set up Haydn Sommer (Bridgeland, Texas / No. 47 ’22) for the game-tying goal to send the game to overtime.
— NLF (@natlaxfed) June 27, 2020
“When I was younger, I always just thought of putting the ball in the net, but as I’ve matured a little bit more, I’ve started to learn that passing can really open up opportunities, not only for your teammates but for yourself, too, because if they’re not going to slide to you, you’re going to be able to have a field day,” Millon said. “I’ve definitely tried to pass a lot more and I think of myself as a well-rounded attackman that can pass or score.”
One of Millon’s most understated plays, though, didn’t show up on the stat sheet. He sprinted past two Crabs and dove for a ball that was headed for the midline, knocking it loose to a teammate to help 91 Maryland keep possession. Those types of plays never go unnoticed.
Griffin Shaffer, faceoff midfield, Crabs / Vandegrift (Texas) – Highlights.
Shaffer and teammate Ian Kim (Conestoga, Pa.) teamed up to give the Crabs a decided advantage at the faceoff X that manifested itself by way of a 14-for-21 edge. Shaffer went 8-for-11 on the day, including a super clean win on the overtime draw, and he was able to use his hand speed and leverage to quickly pinch and pop on a few occasions. On a faceoff win at 17:46, he stays low to the ground and comes up with the ground ball before making a smart, simple pass with two guys on him. Shaffer’s quickness was an issue for 91 Maryland at the X, and he also ripped home a goal by snapping home an 11-yard bouncer to give the Crabs a 2-0 lead.
Max Watkinson, goalie, Team 91 Maryland / St. Paul’s (Md.) – Highlights.
Watkinson made some big saves to help keep 91 Maryland in the game when the Crabs threatened to run away with it. His best sequence came at 55:53 with a tough save with his left glove as he comes across, then follows it up right away with a beauty of a 1v1 save in tight where he exploded to the ball and got his hands up in a hurry. The save at 58:30 illustrates his ability to stretch out to get to the ball, and as a bonus, he tosses the ensuing clear on a dime to his midfielder. He does an excellent job of fluidly dropping down to take away a Hugh Brown rip at 32:46.
Anthony Wilson, goalie, Crabs / McDonogh (Md.) – Highlights.
Wilson and the aforementioned Tommy Lubin formed a dynamic 1-2 punch in the Crabs’ cage, with Wilson only ceding three goals in the first half. The tall righty did an excellent job of forming up to shooters and taking away angles, and he had a couple of really impressive saves down low, particularly for a bigger guy. The post-to-post save at 18:44 in the video is excellent and he easily gobbles up the following low shot at 18:50. He effortlessly tracked down an eight-yard high-to-high rip at 21:30 with good footwork and quick hands, and he did a nice job of keeping things simple in the clearing game with short, accurate passes.