Catonsville High’s lacrosse team picked up the school’s biggest victory of the season and fittingly, the seniors were keys to the 7-5 triumph over Towson on Senior Night.
Before the game, nine Comet seniors were recognized in a brief ceremony, and three of them went on to have outstanding games.
Goalie AJ Beck had 16 saves, including some that were one on one opportunities.
He faced 29 Towson High shots.
Defenseman Stevie Ruppel dominated in the back and came up with a huge forced turnover that helped the Comets kill a critical two-minute non-releasable penalty with the Comets clinging to a 4-2 lead early in the third quarter.
Senior attackman Dillon Hannah scored two goals and had pair of assists to lead the Comets (4-9) in points.
“Our goalie has been playing great,” Catonsville coach Aaron Stubbs said. “Some of the saves he made were great. I couldn’t be more impressed with him and I couldn’t be more impressed with Steve Ruppel and Dillon Hannah.”
Both defenses were flawless during a scoreless first quarter.
In addition to Ruppel and Beck, the Comets got spirited defensive efforts from Jake Bredeck, Tommy Sadler and Nick Ellsworth.
Towson’s back line was anchored by goalie Colby Hogan and he was protected by Josh Rittier, Graham Sevy and Will Huckenpoehler.
Towson’s Jack Ware finally broke the scoreless tie with 8:23 left in the first half, but Catonsville’s Hannah responded with the equalizer 17 seconds later.
Senior John Noppenberger assisted sophomore Andrew Peabody for a 2-1 Comet lead with 6:23 left, but Ware assisted AJ Bosse to tie the game at 2-2 before halftime.
The Comets started the second half a man up for 47 seconds and failed to capitalize, but Hannah scored the go-ahead goal with 10:17 remaining in the third quarter after he faked, and drifted to his left before firing the shot.
“Usually when I come down on the fast break, my friend Colin (Burk) is right there, but he wasn’t there, he was backing up the goal,” Hannah said.
Towson (5-6) threatened to tie, but Sadler saved a goal by checking a Towson attackman who had broken free on the crease.
Beck also made a pair of excellent saves in a 13-second span with just over nine minutes remaining while the Comets were a man down.
Beck was seeing the ball really well all night.
“It looked like a beach ball to me,” he said.
After the Comets killed the penalty, Hannah assisted Peabody for his second goal of the night and Catonsville had a 4-2 lead with 8:20 left in the period.
Just 12 seconds later, the Comets were whistled for a two-minute unreleasable penalty and that’s when Ruppel came to the rescue with his strip.
“We called a pressure call on man down and we decided the kid didn’t really know what to do once I came out and I just got a good tip on the ball and luckily I was able to pick it up and run it down,” Ruppel said.
Hannah, Brian Holmes and Luke Pulmisan spent the entire two minutes playing keep away and the Comets killed the penalty without yielding a shot.
Catonsville extended the lead to 6-2 in the fourth quarter on an unassisted goal by Liam Stewart and on a goal by Holmes off of Hannah’s assist with 7:54 left in the game.
But, 54 seconds later, the Comets went two players down and shortly after they killed the penalties, Towson’s Noah St. John scored making it 6-3.
Jordan Hummel assisted Gordon Palmer with and the Generals only trailed 6-4 with 4:14 remaining.
But Stewart won the next critical faceoff and the Comets ate some clock before Beck saved a high shot by Hummel with 3:06 remaining.
“Liam Stewart does a great job in the faceoff and Connor Hurd backed him up great today,” Stubbs said.
With 1:11 left, Stewart scored the Comets’ final goal of the night and Towson didn’t score its fifth goal until 33 seconds left when James Psoras assisted Palmer.
It was only the fourth win of the season for the Comets who have played an extremely difficult schedule.
Coach Stubbs was asked if it was the biggest win of the season?
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” he said. “It’s not to often you see me smiling after a game.”
Among the teams the Comets lost to were Good Counsel, McDonogh, Bel Air, Patterson Mill, Hereford, Franklin and Dulaney.
Playing those tough teams prepared the veteran Ruppel and he gave his teammates some inspiration before the game.
“I said to the guys before the game, ‘we went out to McDonough, we went out to Good Counsel and we played Hereford. Those games are the games that set you up for these games’,” he said.
Being honored, along with seniors Alex Kellerman, Karl Stuthman, Kedrick Cannady, Jeremy Walters, Ellsworth, Noppenberger, Beck and Hannah, was also motivation for Ruppel.
“Me and Dillon have been watching senior day all four years,” Ruppel said. “There is definitely added
emotion, especially when you are playing for guys older then you, but when you are playing for yourself, it’s definitely like, man, this is the last time you might see the lights go on so I think it definitely added a good deal of emotion.”