If those watching No. 3 St. Paul's build a 7-4 halftime lead on Tuesday afternoon against No. 8 Loyola thought the Crusaders were content to settle for an average margin of victory over a tough rival, they were mistaken.
This year's St. Paul's team is looking to make amends for a down year in 2012 during which the Crusaders did not win a conference game and finished a dismal 3-15.
To that end, the Crusaders pressed forward at every opportunity to widen the gap against Loyola of what would become a dominating 19-9 victory while handing the Dons their third consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference loss.
Senior face-off specialist Mike D'Amelio had as much to do with the dominating performance as anyone by grabbing 13 of the game's final 17 draws.
"My wing guys realy helped me out a lot," said D'Amelio about senior Greg Louzan, junior Henry Riehl and sophomore Alex McGovern.
All the extra possessions D'Amelio garnered for the Crusaders (12-1, 2-1 league) were well-suited for a team that St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato encourages to push the pace
"Sometimes, they have a tendency to back off a little," Brocato said. "But we told them to just keep playing.
He added that D'Amelio's success comes from his improvement at the end of last season and hard work polishing his technique in the offseason
Although D'Amelio won the opening draw of the second half, the Dons (7-5, 0-3) scored first on sophomore midfielder Ryan Conrad's third goal of the game.
However, sophomore attackman Carter Flaig and sophomore midfielder Jack Pollard answered to give the Crusaders a 9-5 advantage.
After Loyola senior attackman Kevin Jackson and senior midfielder Tim Nordbrook sandwiched goals around one by McGovern, St. Paul's closed the third quarter on a 3-0 run behind McGovern, junior attackman Mikey Wynne and senior midfielder Ben Linkous to spurt ahead, 13-7, entering the fourth quarter.
Sopohomore attackman Alex Roesner opened the final period for the Dons with a goal that was quickly offset by Flaig and Linkous goals to put the hosts ahead, 15-8 with 8:29 remaining.
"We still don't think we've played our best lacrosse," Brocato said. "We played without our best midfielder (B.J. Mattheiss) today, so our -next-man-up approach is working, sort of like it did in 2010 (St. Paul's last title year)."
Goals: L-McNamara 1, Jackson 1, Roesner 3, Nordbrook 1, Conrad 3 SP-Linkous 3, Wynne 2, Louzan 2, Pollard 1, Anderson 1, Flaig 4, Nelson 1, Mayer 2, McGovern 3
Assists: L-McNamara 1, Nordbrook 1, Conrad 2, Williams 1 SP-Louzan 3, Anderson 3, Flaig 2, D'Amelio 1, Pollard 2, Schulmeyer 1, McGovern 2, Wynne 1
Saves: L-Newton 10 SP-Barretto 11
Half: 7-4, SP