Refreshed and rejuvenated, the sixth-ranked St. Mary’s lacrosse team did what a good team does against a quality opponent in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference — prevail by the narrowest margin.
The sixth-ranked Saints’ 10-9 road verdict over No. 3 Boys’ Latin on an unseasonably chilly early May afternoon was not easily achieved and shows that they have fully recovered from a mid-season slump, during which coach Victor Lilly’s squad posted a 2-4 mark.
“The biggest thing is the mental aspect,” Lilly said, “and the seniors really stepping up and are being leaders. They’ve been through this before. They’ve got five or six games to go in the season and it’s a long way to go. A lot of fun, as long as you play hard. We took a couple of losses along the way, and losses don’t feel good in the mouth. We had to spit that taste out.”
As is often the case in battles between rivals in the upper-echelon of the A Conference, lead changes (5) and ties (4) were prevalent before one team could finally inch ahead — and stay there.
St. Mary’s senior midfielder Erik Chick’s lone goal of the game snapped a 4-4 deadlock with six minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the first half to put the Saints (12-4 overall, 5-3 MIAA A) on top for good, despite several rallies by the Lakers (9-5, 5-3 MIAA A) to catch up.
Senior Bobby Keane, on his way to posting a career-best five-goal game, gave the visitors a 6-4 cushion with 1:45 left in the period that BL senior midfielder Jackson Walsh diminished 40 seconds later to make it a one-goal difference heading into the third quarter.
St. Mary’s built a three-goal advantage on back-to-back Keane tallies to open the stanza until junior attackman George Insley answered for BL. However, the Saints’ transition game pushed the lead to 9-6 when senior defender Dillon Torggler converted a feed from junior attackman Gavin Burlace with 3:19 left in the period.
By this time, St. Mary’s could have easily had a much bigger lead if not for a spectacular performance by Boys’ Latin senior Goalie Cadigan, whose 17 saves included several from the doorstep.
The Monmouth University recruit and his defensive mates would limit the Saints to just one goal over the final 15 minutes — and that was Keane striking with a 6-on-4 man advantage with 5:24 left in regulation — while the Lakers found the net three times on goals by junior attackmen Spencer Ford and Connor Sydney, and junior midfielder Colin Kenney.
It just wasn’t quite enough to prevent BL from losing its second straight game and falling behind in an attempt to earn a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs.
As it stands now, the Lakers are now tied with St. Mary’s and No. 5 St. Paul’s (all 5-3) behind defending champ and top-ranked McDonogh (7-1), fourth-ranked Loyola Blakefield (7-2) and second-ranked Calvert Hall (6-2).
The top six teams in the standings following the completion of regular season play Tuesday afternoon will advance to the postseason.
Lily praised Keane, who he called “the Crofton kid,” for his scoring outburst.
“The kid’s a helluva lacrosse player and he has a helluva shot,” the coach said. “If he’s got time and room, there’s not going to be too many (goalies) who can see it.”
Keane said that the Saints have turned things around by having more spirited practices.
“One thing we changed is that we really started to compete in practice — and having fun,” the High Point commit said. “I think that really brought the tempo up. We were fired up to get up here. Just warmups, I started focusing on not just aiming, but shooting as fast I can. We had the energy today.”
Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell said “we have to right the ship and figure things out” for the final two conference games of the season.
He also praised Cadigan for his work between the pipes and Thomas Moxley for a strong second half at the face-off ‘X,’ saying that the senior duo “stepped up when we needed them.”
NO. 6 ST. MARY’S 10, NO. 3 BOYS’ LATIN 9
St. Mary’s 3 2 4 1 — 10
Boys’ Latin 2 4 0 3 — 9
Goals: St. Mary’s - Bobby Keane 5, Gavin Burlace 2, Nick Golini, Eric Chick, Dillon Torggler; Boys’ Latin - Matthew Higgins 2, Jackson Walsh 2, Connor Sydnor 2, Spencer Ford, George Insley, Colin Kenney
Assists: St. Mary’s - Nick Golini 2, Colin Burlace 2, Jake Kucinski; Boys’ Latin - Spencer Ford 2, Matthew Higgins 2
Saves: St. Mary’s - Shea Kennedy 3; Boys’ Latin - Dylan Cadigan 17