On a day when offenses were neutralized for a large portion of the opening half, it took a freshman playing in his first varsity game to break the ice.
Archbishop Spalding freshman Marco Mazzola scored off a Parker Thomas assist midway through the first half to give the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead over visiting Mount St. Joseph. The floodgates opened after that, as the two teams ended up combining for six goals in what finished as a 3-3 overtime tie.
In the second half, it was another freshman — Kyle Crawford — that assisted Jimmy LaMore to temporarily give the Cavaliers a 3-2 lead with 16:49 left in regulation.
“Both of those guys were brought up today because we had injuries and they made an immediate impact,” said Spalding coach Patrick Crawford, whose son is Kyle.
Mount St. Joe coach Mike St. Martin also has a son on his team, but Brian St. Martin didn’t play because he is recovering from labrum surgery.
“He’s cleared to practice, but he’s got to do a week or two of practice,” said St. Martin, of his son, who will play at the University of Maryland next year.
His brother, Brett, is a senior defender for the Terps this season.
Needing a first-half spark against the Cavaliers, the Gaels got it with just over 10 minutes to go when senior Shan Chung assisted senior Kelly Clancy.
“That gave us a lot of momentum to go into the second half and we really felt like we could win it when we started in the second half,” senior tri-captain Andre Isreal said.
Early in the second half, Isreal sparked the attack with two sideline runs and dangerous crosses that gave the Gaels scoring chances.
“He was attacking from the back and he was making some good runs,” St. Martin said. “He was making some good runs and getting into some dangerous spots. I thought it was the difference in the game.”
Martin also praised the play of senior tri-captain Brendan Flynn, senior Liam Curran and junior Max Bezos.
Isreal finally gave the Gaels a 2-1 lead when he pumped a shot high into the top corner less than nine minutes into the second half.
“The ball kind of came in and I took it down and took a touch and I saw an open window for me to have a shot and I just tried to put it in the top corner,” Isreal said.
Spalding netted the equalizer when Lucas Flores scored off a Cole Miller assist with 25:32 left in the second half.
“We sort of made a change,” Crawford said. “We moved two up top to try and neutralize them and put a little pressure on them, then we tried to win those balls and start our attack which was working in the second half.”
After the Cavaliers went ahead on LaMore’s goal, the Gaels responded with a goal by Clancy after a failed clear.
Clancy got the free ball and chipped it high into the net with 8:47 left.
Neither team scored the rest of the way.
With 6:32 left in regulation James Kasuda sent a rocket high and that was the best chance until overtime.
The best scoring chance in the 20-minute overtime period came from Isreal, who drilled a shot on goal that caromed off the hands of Spalding goalie Mason Jones.
“I was a little off-balanced and I just wanted to at least get it on target and draw a save from the goalie and see if anyone could get a rebound,” Isreal said.
The Gaels improved to 0-2-2 overall, while the Cavaliers are now 3-1-1.
“We are just trying to get some points now,” St. Martin said. “Of course I want to win, we kind of battled to come back there. It’s a young team. I was proud of the way they stayed together and didn’t get down.”
Isreal likes the progress of the young squad that graduated 18 seniors.
“We are just rebuilding right now,” he said. “I think as the season goes on we are going to get better and this was a good start after the last game so hopefully we can carry that until the last stretch of the season.”
The Gaels were coming off a 2-1 loss to Concordia Prep.
Spalding’s Crawford likes the way his team has developed in his fifth season at the helm.
“We’ve lost a lot of games and now we’ve got a team that can compete and we are just trying to change that mentality of thinking you belong,” Crawford said. “We are there. I’m proud of them. They are young, so the future is certainly bright.”