In between intermittent downpours and shots on goal, Mount St. Joseph relied on stingy defense and patient offense in a 9-4 victory over visiting neighborhood rival Catonsville.
The win was the Gaels fifth straight, while the Comets, who opened its season with an 8-7 victory over Centennial, evened its mark at 1-1.
The Gaels built a 4-1halftime lead on a goal by Catonsville resident Clay Kirby and three goals by Joe Rolando (game-high 5 goals).
Catonsville's fastbreak tally by Arthur Schorr was the lone Comet goal in the opening half.
Both teams relied on defense the rest of the way with the Comets getting an offensive spark in the third quarter from longstick defenders Joe Tebo and Stephen Ruppel.
Tebo caught a high clearing pass near midfield and threw a long pass to Ruppel, who made it 4-2 with six minutes left in the third quarter.
'We've been trying to get the defense to carry the ball over the midfield with clears," Catonsville coach Aaron Stubbs said.
The goal was a bonus.
With 4:41 left in the third period, sophomore Dillon Hannah tinged the twine with a low finesse shot, making it 4-3.
It was the closest the Comets would get the rest of the way.
Mount St. Joseph senior Craig Costabile had no doubts Catonsville would make a run.
"No matter what, when these two teams get together, it is going to be a battle because everyone is putting everything in it because its the neighborhood rivalry," Costabile said. "When they started really picking it up, we relaxed a little bit, but we had a lead and coach emphasized we were still up and had to stick with our game plan and things would come around."
Costabile and the offense came around as they scored five of the last six goals in the fourth quarter.
Costabile and Rolando had two each and Mike LeClair added the other.
Catonsville's only fourth quarter score came from Hannah after a Drew Carlson assist.
"We just made some fundamental errors and that really hurt us and they capitalized on our errors and we were not able to do the same when they made mistakes," Stubbs said.
Mount St. Joseph's defense of Tom Koenig, Matt Lucas and Alec Zeliff and goalie Colin Reymann made life difficult all day for the Comets.
"Our defense is the most integral part of our team," Costabile said. "Our defense has been phenomenal this season."
Catonsville's defenders Tebo, Ruppel and Cassidy Higdon and goalie Jon Reymann also held the Comets together.
"I thought the defense did well," Stubbs said. "They did a great job, but it just wore them out at the end."
What tested them the most was the Gaels ball control offense and decided advantage in time of possession, thanks to strong faceoff work from Mike Monaghan.
"It's hard to play like that," Stubbs said.
Playing that patient style has worked for the Gaels, who lost their opener, but won five straight, including three in California, by only once scoring in double figures.
"California really gave us wins, which we haven't had in the past," Costabile said. "We got wins under our belt and it really built our confidence and told us we can be a good team if we play as a team and stick to our game plan and do what we are supposed to."
The thrill of playing Catonsville was especially motivating for the Gaels, who have several players from the Catonsville area.
Although Costabile is not one of them, he's aware of the added incentive.
"There definitely was (more excitement) because we are big rivals with Catonsville because they are right down the street," Costabile said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun