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Faceoff wins and explosive sophomore lead St. Paul’s lacrosse to 10-5 victory over Mount Saint Joseph

Sophomore Michael Smyth had four goals and an assist and junior Connor Dunay won 10 of 14 faceoffs to lead the St. Paul’s boys lacrosse team to a 10-5 victory over host Mount Saint Joseph on Tuesday.

The Crusaders (1-0) won 13 of 17 faceoffs in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game and dominated time of possession.

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“Connor did a really nice job at the faceoff ‘X,’ and when we called on a couple other kids to take some draws, they did a nice job there as well,” St. Paul’s coach Trey Whitty said.

Dunay, who transferred from Hereford before the 2020-21 school year, lost the first faceoff of the day to Drew Rippeon, but won the next seven.

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“You can’t base anything off one faceoff. We’ve got a whole game to play, so you’ve just got to do your thing,” Dunay said. ”People all get rattled with the first faceoff if they lose. You got to play your game, trust yourself, and if you get all rattled you are not really going to play well.”

With 9:46 left in the first quarter, Smyth sped down the sideline and fed a streaking Kabe Clark for a goal.

“That was our designed play right out of the huddle,” Smyth said.

The Gaels (2-2) got the equalizer with 2:19 left in the opening quarter on a goal by Dylan Wilson, but Smyth answered off an assist from Noah Chizmar for a 2-1 lead with 1:18 remaining.

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Colin Russell raced uncontested down the right sideline and gave the Crusaders a 3-1 lead early in the second stanza.

Shortly after Alex Clyde’s shot went wide, Maddux Walton hit the post and a shot by Cory Myers was saved, Myers scored an unassisted goal, making it 3-2 Gaels with 8:55 left in the second quarter.

The Crusaders reeled off the next four goals, with three coming in the second quarter.

Jacob Nottoli assisted Smyth for the first with a flag down and Smyth went top shelf for the second after a pair of MSJ penalties. Nottoli made it 6-2 before halftime.

Coach Tyler Reid knew not keeping possession much in the first half would come back to haunt the Gaels.

“When we did have possession early on, we were doing a good job executing our offense and the second quarter really hurt us,” he said.

Braeden Klausner bumped the score to 7-2 early in the third quarter, but the Gaels responded with three unanswered goals after they called a time out. Finn Schmidt netted the first with 8:46 left in the third quarter and, after Dylan Wilson’s shot hit the post, Aidan Addison converted the rebound.

Schmidt scored off a Walton assist with 1:25 left in the quarter to make it 7-5, but the Gaels didn’t score again against the solid long-pole defense of Owen Hire, Jake Moore and Keagan Treacy.

Fourth-quarter goals by Clark, Smyth and Jake Bair completed the scoring for St. Paul’s, which also got an assist from Brody Atkinson in the quarter.

“Most of the game we were consistent and disciplined and patient,” Whitty said. “We had a little lapse there at times in the third, but overall I thought we did a nice job for most of the game.”

Solid midfield play by Bair and the explosive scoring of Smyth really set the tone for the Crusaders.

“No. 1, [Bair] did a great job, he’s a talented player and he creates a lot of offense,” Reid said. “He’s a big strong guy and he draws the slide, he’s impressive.”

Whitty was impressed with Smyth’s unselfishness.

“It’s not a one-on-one game for him, he plays good team lacrosse and he capitalizes when he gets opportunities,” Whitty said. “Everything he does is within our team scheme and it’s a credit to Michael for being such a good teammate.”

Meanwhile, Reid is just hoping to get some injured starters back in the lineup.

Senior middies Bradley David (Towson University), Willie Bateman (St. Mary’s) and Tyler Matthiesen and sophomore middie Jack Spears were all out with injuries and senior defenders Aaron Rubeling and Garrett Gmeiner are battling injuries.

“Our guys compete in practices and they are buying into the process, but we also have a lot of guys who haven’t necessarily played in game experience much all year,” Reid said.

The Gaels were outshot 32-21, but the defense of long-sticks Alex Chairs, Brendan Donahue and Ryan Addison held its own despite being under siege most of the night.

“I think our effort is certainly there,” Reid said. “I think our biggest issue is we have to eliminate our mistakes in between the lines in transition and we’ve proven when we have the ball offensively we can score, it’s just we didn’t have a lot of opportunities today.”

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