It was only fitting that the game between No. 6 Gilman and No. 5 St. Paul's would come down to the last possession Tuesday.
The game was close for almost all of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference matchup and the Greyhounds clung to a one-goal lead in the closing seconds.
St. Paul's attackman Carter Flaig was able to get an open look at the goal, but his shot sailed just high and host Gilman held on for the 9-8 victory.
Andy Matthews and Tyler Ruhl each scored three goals for the Greyhounds, who bounced back from a loss to Loyola in their conference opener on Friday. William McBride scored twice for Gilman (4-3, 1-1 MIAA) and Andrew Gemma also had a goal.
Gilman coach Brooks Matthews liked the way his team responded and was just happy to get a win in what is regarded as one of the top high school lacrosse leagues in the nation.
"This is a fun game. The faster you play, the more confidently you play and move the ball around with your stick work, the more fun it is," Matthews said. "That's how we want to play. I just didn't see that sort of joy against Loyola. So, it was a lot better today."
Henry Riehl had three goals for St. Paul's, while Mikey Wynne and Flaig each scored twice and Joe Pollard added another. The Crusaders (5-4 overall, 1-1) won 13 of 21 faceoffs and picked up 29 ground balls, compared to 20 for Gilman.
The Greyhounds never trailed in the game and held their biggest lead, 8-5, at the half. St. Paul's, however, adjusted by playing tighter man-to-man marking in the third quarter and did not allow a goal. Flaig and Riehl each scored and the Crusaders trailed, 8-7, heading into the final period.
"I think they were just forcing a lot of outside shots," said Matthews, who has committed to North Carolina. "We worked really hard Sunday getting ground balls and just focused on the basics. We let a lot of little things go in that game against Loyola, and that was unacceptable. So, we came out here and worked on it.
"You can't be 0-2. We needed this game."
Gilman finally got back on the board with a goal by Ruhl with 5:29 left in the game but St. Paul's was able to close the gap to 9-8 with just 1:40 remaining.
Gilman appeared to be on the verge of running out the clock before St. Paul's forced a turnover in the final minute. However, Flaig's shot just missed and the Greyhounds held on.
"I thought in the second half our defense played really well," St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato said. "I was pleased with our defense. I thought A.J. Barretto did a good job in goal in the second half. We just have to play better on the offensive end and finish our shots."
No. 6 Gilman 9, No. 5 St. Paul's 8
Goals: SP—Riehl 3, Flaig 2, Wynne 2, Pollard; G—Matthews 3, Ruhl 3, McBride 2, Gemma.
Saves: SP—Pearl 6, Barretto 5; G—Shmerler 12.
Half: G: 8-5