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For Spading boys lacrosse star Michael Weisshaar, end goal is leading Cavaliers to program’s first MIAA A crown

When Michael Weisshaar enrolled at Archbishop Spalding as a freshman in 2018, the lacrosse star brought a hefty goal: Fulfilling his longstanding dream of winning a coveted Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.

Back then, most would have deemed it unrealistic as the Cavaliers had never won a league playoff game, let alone a championship.

But now? Behind Weisshaar, a dynamic two-way midfielder and last year’s C. Markland Kelly Award winner, and the special senior class he’s part of, the No. 4 Cavaliers are fresh off a breakthrough 2021 season and looking for much more. After winning the program’s first playoff game and reaching last year’s title game — falling to perennial league power Boys’ Latin, 9-8 — they firmly believe they’re prepared to take the final step.

Weisshaar, who has 28 goals and nine assists in the team’s 5-1 start, knows it takes a special bond and he sees it every day. Six players in the senior class played on varsity as freshmen and a talented group of underclassmen are doing their share under coach Brian Phipps.

“I think the biggest part about it is we just all love being around each other,” Weisshaar said. “I know for me and a lot of the guys on the team, coming to practice and being with each other is the best part of the day. So I think that’s going to be a key for our success and it will really help us in the long run.”

Weisshaar’s impact is made all over the field, evidenced by his breakthrough junior year. The left-handed Towson commit did a lot of everything in leading the Cavaliers to a 12-3 mark. In becoming the program’s first C. Markland Kelly Award winner honoring Maryland’s top high school player, he scored 48 goals, dished out 23 assists, totaled 53 ground balls and played a big role in the clearing game.

“The one thing with Michael is he’ll never take a play off — he’ll go until his tank hits empty,” Phipps said. “He can make something out of nothing, which is the impressive thing. There can be a ball on the ground and the next thing you know, it’s in the back of the net after he scoops it up, dodges two guys and finishes.”

Weisshaar had a lacrosse stick in his hand when he was 3 years old and he grew up also playing football and basketball. One thing stood out: his outstanding speed.

It was the first indicator that he was a special talent.

“I’ve just always been fast and so that’s always been an advantage. When I was little, I was always running — that’s all I knew,” he said. “Returning the football, in basketball getting up and down the court, coaches would tell me I need to slow down.”

With his speed and athleticism laying the foundation, Weisshaar locked in on lacrosse and consistently honed his skills that were accompanied by fierce competitiveness and winning game sense.

“It’s been great to see his game elevate as an athlete and competitor — really impressive to watch,” said senior attackman Race Ripley, who has played alongside Weisshaar since fifth grade. “One of the main things that separates Michael having played with him for so long is definitely the confidence he brings when he’s having a good game. He’s unguardable. You can try to lock him off, but he’ll find ways to make plays off the ball or open up opportunities for other players. So whatever your game plan is for Michael, he’ll find a way to continue to make big plays and help us come away with a win.”

Spalding went 7-10 the season before this year’s senior class came aboard. After a 9-9 campaign in 2019 followed by the lost season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Cavaliers made significant strides last year. A 14-7 win over Severn in the quarterfinals was the first playoff win for the Cavaliers in the A Conference. They followed with a 9-8 win over then three-time defending champion Calvert Hall to reach the championship game.

What Phipps was impressed with most was how, all along, his team believed it belonged. The Cavaliers showed that in the title game’s last minute when they scored twice to pull within one goal of Boys’ Latin.

“Losing in the championship last year, it’s a lesson that I feel like we’ve learned from and we’re going to take it moving forward and use it to our advantage. In the past, we didn’t have that experience. But because of last year, we have a feel for it now,” Weisshaar said. “We understand what it takes to be a championship-caliber team and I feel like everyone on this roster is all for it and it’s the only thing we’re thinking about.”

Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell, who has won the league title as a player and coach for the Lakers, understands the importance of experience. He said Weisshaar has taken full advantage in developing into a complete player and leader that brings confidence to his team.

“He makes his teammates better, which is really what offensive players should be doing,” Farrell said. “They have a unique offense that allows guys to play free and they allow him to make decisions, which he’s a very good decision-maker. He really does it all.”

After last year’s close call and the overwhelming desire to bring home the program’s first league title, Weisshaar is making sure to not look too far ahead. Every practice in this senior year — and the extra work he often puts in after them — is cherished.

Asked what the feeling would be like should the Cavaliers get the ultimate job done, he said: “It would be so surreal, a great experience.”

For Weisshaar, the work is just as rewarding.

“I feel like we have some great talent and great coaches, and it will take just staying together throughout the season and having some fun,” he said.

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