Down two players to start the second half against visiting Mount Saint Joseph on Saturday, the Gilman lacrosse team would have been more than satisfied to simply get back to even strength while protecting a two-goal lead.
The No. 9 Greyhounds did even better.
Shortly after the first penalty was successfully killed off, they scored a shorthanded goal. It was the start of five straight goals as Gilman took charge in a dominant third quarter that was instrumental in a 12-7 win over the Gaels in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
Gilman improved to 7-4 overall and 2-2 in the MIAA. Mount Saint Joseph (2-6) falls to 0-4 in league play.
Senior attackman Austin Hudson scored three goals with junior midfielder Piper Bond contributed two goals and an assist. But it was senior goalie Sam Tirone (nine saves) and an organized defense that carried the day for the Greyhounds, who killed off the first seven man-advantage opportunities for the Gaels.
While Gilman coach Brooks Matthews wasn't pleased with his Greyhounds taking nine penalties — they allowed two late man-down goals, but also killed off three two-man-down situations — he also saw plenty of positives, and at the end of the day an important league win to stay in playoff contention.
"It's tough at this point in the season in that we'd like to see the guys playing more focused and more consistent. We're too inconsistent," Matthews said. "We've shown we know how to play and what it takes to be successful, but it has to be an all-the-time kind of thing. But I'm really proud how they came out in the third quarter. They took control of the game and that was important for us."
The Greyhounds got goals from Jordan Yaffe and Ronald Fisher III just 33 seconds apart to take a 4-2 lead with 2:08 to play in the first half. But they started the third quarter down two players.
After getting one player back, the Greyhounds got a goal from Bond to go up 5-2 just as the second penalty was about to expire.
The Greyhounds padded the lead with two goals from Hudson and another from Johnny Shapiro (two goals) before killing off two more penalties later in the third quarter. With 2:26 left in the pivotal quarter, Bond added another to give the Greyhounds a 9-2 lead and the advantage was never threatened. On a hot afternoon with a lot of time spent a man or two down, the Greyhounds defensive unit responded favorably.
"We were undisciplined with [nine] penalties, but our man-down unit really stuck in there and dug deep," Tirone said. "We were two-man-down a lot, too, and I don't think they scored once. We showed extreme effort and gave it our all. It's all about communication and being on the same page. You have to be one unit out there and not four or five individuals."
With only two seniors getting significant playing time, the Gaels are a work in progress in the country's most challenging league. Junior midfielder Griffin Corbett (two goals, two assists) and junior attackman Kyle DeCrispino (two goals, one assist) led the attack with junior goalie Kyle Botsford playing strong in the cage with 12 saves.
"This game is about the little things. … Are you moving your feet, are you running through ground balls, are you communicating when you're tired? And I think we had a little lapses there," Mount Saint Joseph coach Stephen Berger said. "I think we came out thinking we were going to play on our toes and we played on our heels a little bit and they took advantage of it. We have a young group — only two seniors on the field — guys that are interested and willing to work hard. It really comes down to game day and putting those pieces into place."
9 Gilman 12, Mount Saint Joseph 7
Goals: MSJ – Baeck, Corbett 2, DeCrispino 2, McVicker, Ordakowski;
G – Hudson 3, Yaffe, Oursler, Piper 2, Hazlehurst 2, Fisherr III, .
Assists: MSJ – Corbett 2, DeCrispino;
G – Kelly, Bond, Godine, Houley
Saves: MSJ – Botsford 12;
G – Tirone 9
Half: G, 4-2