Mount St. Joseph couldn't have tuned up for a tough five-game conference stretch to close the regular season any better as the Gaels dismantled Calverton School, 12-5, in a non-league showdown on Thursday evening.
The host Gaels never trailed against the visitors from Huntingtown.
Shawn Carter (2 goals, 3 assists), Bryan Costabile (3 goals, 1 assists) and Jimmy Lucas (2 goals) led a balanced attack that included five other Gaels who tallied single goals.
"We are deep this year," said senior Clay Kirby, who had an assist.
Mount St. Joe's penalty-killing unit went to work early, when it had to withstand four Calverton shots after a penalty less than a minute into the contest.
"It was a foreshadowing of good things to come for the Gaels' penalty killers, that were led by senior Kyle Costabile.
I thought we had too many penalties, but we did a good job man down," St. Joe coach Dave Slafkosky said. "I thought the kids did a heckuva job man down and Kyle got ground balls for us today.
Among the others who held up strong on man down defense, in front of goalie Ben Heinzman, were defenders Cole Gable, Charlie Davis, Joey Lucas and long stick middie Hunter Glagola.
Heinzman was credited with seven saves, but two were very critical point blank stops in the first half.
"Ben stepped it up today," Slafkosky said. "He didn't get a ton (of saves) on him, but he made a couple big ones."
Meanwhile, the offense was clicking on all cylinders, especially in man-up situations.
Kirby set up the game's opening goal when he drew a penalty with 7:45 left in the first quarter.
Shortly after, Jimmy Lucas cranked one home for a 1-0 lead.
Bryan Costabile's interception deep in the Calverton zone led to the second goal with six minutes left in the first quarter, before the Cougars tied it on scores from Cole Kern and Ray LaPlaca.
With 55 ticks left in the opening quarter, Bryan Costabile assisted Carter for a 3-2 lead and the Gaels never trailed again.
With 12 seconds left in the quarter, Heinzman made a point blank high stop off a shot from Chris DiPretoro.
His foot made another tough stop with 8:40 left in the second quarter.
The Gaels led 7-3 at halftime, but the Cougars' Connor Quinn scored 41 seconds into the second half to cut the deficit to three.
Six seconds later, Andrew Bledsoe won the faceoff and scored for an 8-4 lead and the Gaels kept the momentum the rest of the way, scoring three unanswered goals and two more in the fourth period.
Two of the next three goals came in extra-man situations.
Although Gael junior John Norton barely touched the ball in front of the crease, he was key to screening the goalie and creating open lanes.
"John does a good job," Slafkosky said of the Catonsville resident. "He's a big target in there and he's now playing man up so that is going to give him a little more opportunities. We move him in there because he covers a lot of space."
Norton just recently returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for the first half of the season.
The Gael defense held the Cougars scoreless for the final 10:31 of the game.
"A lot of the credit has to go to our defense and our goalie," Kyle Costabile said.
That defense will be tested in the final five games of the regular season when they face Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference foes Loyola Blakefield, Boys' Latin, Gilman, St. Paul's and St. Mary's.
The April 29 match with Gilman is the only one at home.
The Gaels are currently 1-3 in the conference.
"We won one against Spalding, but had a really disappointing one early against Severn, and we were in it against Calvert Hall, and we were in it against McDonogh, but we've just got to learn how to finish games," Kyle Costabile said.
Just like they started and finished against Calverton.