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St. Paul's lacrosse primed to make run at MIAA A Conference championship

Good luck trying to find a weakness on St. Paul¿s this spring.

Good luck trying to find a weakness on St. Paul's this spring.

The attack is loaded, the midfield deep and the defense experienced.

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And in goal, the Crusaders boast junior University of Virginia recruit Alex Rode.

"I definitely think we are a title-contending team," said St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato, whose team last won a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship in 2010. "We have returning guys at every position."

Last year's 9-6 loss to eventual champion St. Mary's in a playoff semifinal appears to have motivated this year's Crusaders to become a more focused and hard-working group.

"They felt like they let one slip away last year," Brocato said. "They have been talking about let's take care of unfinished business, make it happen and do things the right way and earn our breaks. The chemistry has been so good."

Although St. Paul's graduated goalie AJ Barretto, who now plays for Army West Point, he will be replaced by Rode.

Rode is a big reason for Brocato's optimism about his team.

"He is one the best goalies in his age group in the country," the coach said. "He is big, very athletic, has quick hands and is great in the clearing game. He potentially ranks up there with the best we've had here. The last few years, we've had Gunnar Waldt, an All-American at Bryant University and AJ Baretto, who starts at Army."

The defense in front of Rode returns seniors Connor Sorg (Delaware), John Faus (Holy Cross) and Andrew Barstow (Hamilton).

Seniors Tyler Rockhill (Maryland) Patrick Karey (Cornell) and junior Kyle DiPietro (Johns Hopkins) spearhead an impressive midfield.

The midfield also features senior Sean Anderson, juniors Riley Bakewell and Matt Mayer (Navy) and twins Carson and Riley Gaeger.

The Gaegers are juniors committed to Towson University.

Junior Brendan Tscherne will handle face-off duties.

"Our depth at midfield is one our biggest strengths," Brocato said. "We feel we can run three midfield units that are of equal strength. Typically, you run an offensive and a defensive unit. This year, we feel we have nine kids that can play both offensive and defensive."

Yet another strong suit is a potent attack that features seniors Joe Pollard (Virginia), Mitch Gordan (Johns Hopkins) and junior Keegan Pearl (Furman).

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Pollard and Gordan each racked up more than 40 points last year.

“Pollard and Gordon have played together for a long time on the varsity and on their club team,” said Brocato, who has a 210-97 record in 16 years as head coach in Brooklandville.

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