Junior attackman Chase Cullison supplied the needed fourth-quarter offense and No. 11 Winters Mill's defense more than held its own at the other end to defeat host Westminster, 9-6, in Carroll County play Thursday.
With the game tied at 6 going into the fourth quarter, Cullison scored the go-ahead goal and an insurance tally. Fellow junior attackman Ryan Ackerman scored four goals, and senior midfielder Jason Kreimer added two as the Falcons improved to 3-0 on the season.
Westminster, which got two goals and two assists from junior attackman Ryan Drenner, fell to 2-1.
Winters Mill coach Sal Picataggi didn't hesitate when asked what the difference was in the game.
"Our defense was absolutely unbelievable," he said. "We were losing faceoffs, so they had the ball a lot and they're a really talented team. But our team defense was absolutely unbelievable. This is a high-powered offense with lots of speed and shooters, and we had to be on the top of our game, and we were."
The Owls had a 5-4 lead at the half, but they could only muster one goal the rest of the way, a Drenner tally that tied the game at 6 with 3:10 to play in the third quarter. Cullison and the Falcons defense took center stage from that point on.
With 10:05 to play, Cullison cut to the middle, took a feed from senior midfielder Jacques Mercer and fired a shot past Westminster goalie Nick Doyle. After Drenner missed wide on a shot with 4:16 to play, Cullison made it 8-6 with 3:09 remaining.
Senior midfielder Spencer Love scored the final goal in the closing seconds.
"Their defense did a great job on us," Westminster coach Steve DeFeo said. "We threw the ball away too much, and when their defense played their game, they got the ground balls more than we did and went down and executed offensively."
The Owls got goals from Jesse Uhlman and Mike Kibler in the opening minute to take a 2-0 lead, but the Falcons recovered and the rest of the first half was tight.
Ackerman scored a nifty goal coming from behind the cage — his third of the first half — to give the Falcons their first lead at 4-3 with 4:42 to play in the second quarter. Westminster came back with goals from Nick McDonough and Uhlman to send the Owls into the break with the 5-4 lead.
Goals: WM – Ackerman 4, Kreimer 2, Cullison 2, Love; W – Uhlman 2, Kibler, Drenner 2, McDonough .
Assists: WM – Cullison 2, Mercer; W – Drenner 2, Hursey, Nichols .
Saves: WM – Peters 4; W – Doyle 5.
Half: W, 5-4.