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High School sports

Catonsville boys lacrosse scores nine straight goals to open game and rolls to 10-4 victory over Westminster

Catonsville scored nine unanswered goals in the first three quarters on Wednesday and let a dominant defense do the rest as the Comets cruised to a 10-4 victory in their season opener against Westminster.

Byron Newman led the Comets with three goals and two assists, Frank Manalansan added three goals and Johnny Bolster had two.

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Westminster (1-1) was led by Zack Johnson, who had a pair of fourth-quarter goals.

Defenseman James Azbill, who will play at Towson next year, scored the first goal of the game off a nifty assist from Newman after a fast break and clear by goalie Brian Ruppel (7 saves), a Maryland recruit.

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“That was not planned,” Azbill said. “I came down and we’ve done that a million times.”

What was planned was the stingy defense Azbill played on Johnson and John Gorski played on Brady Covey.

“We knew Covey and Johnson for Westminster are awesome, they are incredible players,” Catonsville coach KR Schultz said. “It was a heck of a defensive effort.”

Solidifying the defense was Jack Krug and long-stick midfielder Will Roberson.

Seniors Azbill, Krug and Gorski were all on the Catonsville team that was unbeaten last season until losing in the Class 4A state championship game to Severna Park.

Sophomore Roberson is a newcomer to the defensive unit and he made his presence felt with three caused turnovers.

“We kept him down on JV to learn and get a ton of playing time,” Schultz said. “Will Roberson had a good day, he was the new face.”

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Westminster turnovers negated the edge in faceoff wins from Alex Steers, who won 10 of 17.

“It was a good defensive game except we played too much defense,” Westminster coach Steve DeFeo said. “It’s just a lot to ask and it goes back to the turnovers, some forced, some unforced. Regardless, they had more offensive opportunities than we did and our defense was forced to play too much defense and we all know you can’t play defense almost the whole game.”

The Comets only led 1-0 after the first quarter, thanks to four saves by Owl goalie Matt Kunert, who made six total. But the Comets got on track in the second quarter with four goals, taking a 5-0 lead into intermission.

Bolster scored a minute into the second quarter and Tyler Mikalaski assisted Manalansan less than two minutes later. Newman scored the final two goals of the half, including a rocket from the top of the circle with 10 seconds left.

The offense was also triggered by outstanding clears that led to golden opportunities.

“We like those [defensive] guys to play fast. We feel good about them,” Schultz said.

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Catonsville extended the lead to 9-0 at the end of the third period on a pair of goals by Manalansan and one each from Newman and Bolster.

“We weren’t exactly surprised, we knew we were going to come in here and take care of business,” Azbill said. “We just played the best we could and it worked out for us.”

Jacob Hogue tallied Westminster’s first goal of the game with 10:44 left in the fourth quarter.

By that time, the defense had done his job and Schultz used some of his reserves to rest his starters for a game at Towson, another state finalist, Thursday.

Azbill credited the team’s defensive discipline for leading the way.

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“We came back this year and we are all a little older and we definitely have been very disciplined and we showed it that game,” he said.

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“They played not just defense, but their riding they did a really good job against us,” DeFeo said. “We are looking at it this is game two, you have to be able to throw and catch the ball and we had too many throwaways, we had too many where they took the ball away and we didn’t get the ground ball, the ball was there and they got the ground balls. They did a good job, credit to Catonsville for what they did to us.”

Goals: C — Frank Manalansan 3, Byron Newman 3, Johnny Bolster 2, James Azbill 1, Noah Kennedy 1. W — Zack Johnson 2, Jacob Hogue 1, Peyton Park 1.

Assists: C — Newman 2, Kaplan 1, Mikalaski 1. W — N/A.

Saves: C — Brian Ruppel 7, Gabe Wallman 1. W — Matt Kunert 6.Half: C, 5-0


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