Tagged by many as the No. 1 team in the country at the start of the season, the Calvert Hall boys lacrosse team has already had to deal with its share of pressure and adversity.
Coming off an upset loss at McDonogh on Friday and then watching their lead dwindle to one goal in the third quarter of Tuesday's showdown against newly appointed No. 1 Gilman, the No. 3 Cardinals were in a position to either slip a bit more or rise to the occasion.
They did the latter, responding to their latest test was a six-goal scoring binge that sent them to a satisfying 11-8 home win over the Greyhounds.
John Belz, Jordan Germershausen and Kevin Diehl each scored two goals and goalie Dmitri Pecunes saved 10 shots as the Cardinals improved to 8-2 overall and 2-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. Defending league champion Gilman, which defeated the Cardinals in last year's title game, drops to 6-2 and 2-1 in league play.
After a strong first half at both ends produced a 5-2 advantage at intermission, the Cardinals had their lead cut to 5-4 with 4:13 to play in the third quarter after Gilman took advantage of two man-advantage opportunities. With 2:34 remaining, Germershausen took a nifty feed from Kelton Black (one goal, one assist) and finished in close before Diehl and Belz added goals to push the lead back up to 8-4 going into the fourth quarter.
"I told the kids when we were in there [at halftime], just be prepared for the storm, because they're the type of team that's going to come out and fight," Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. "So when the storm comes, just don't panic and stay under control. When they got it to within one, I felt like our kids were fine. I was proud of how our kids kept their composure."
The Cardinals increased their lead to 11-4 before the Greyhounds closed out the game with four goals in the final 5:26 of play.
"I have faith in all the players on our team, so I knew we had it," Germershausen said. "Our goalie was playing solid and all our defenders played great. We had a lot of different scorers today, so it was a good team win."
Jake Matthai scored three goals to lead Gilman, and Gordie Koerber added two goals and an assist.
"It's hard to come back against a great team, and they're a great team ," Greyhounds coach Brooks Matthews said. "We dug ourselves a hole, and I love our guys, we'll scrap and fight to the end, but we just didn't play smart enough, consistently enough today to get a win."
The Cardinals, who this week slipped out of the No. 1 position in The Sun's top 15 poll for the first time all season, will next host No. 2 Loyola at 7 p.m Friday.
No. 3 Calvert Hall 11, No. 1 Gilman 8
Goals: G — Koerber 2, Morrill, Greene, DeSmit, Matthai 3;
CH — Belz 2, Black, Bolewicki, P. Kelly, Diehl 2, Germershausen 2, J. Kelly, R. Brown.
Assists: G — Brown, Koerber, Morrill, Matthai, McBride, McCarthy;
CH — S. Kelly 2, Bolewicki, J. Kelly, Black, C. Brown, R. Brown.
Saves: G — Moore 7;
CH — Pecunes 10.
Half: CH, 5-2