Westminster exacted the revenge it was looking for against Mount St. Joseph on Tuesday, albeit in strange fashion.
The reigning Class 3A state champions defeated the Gaels 10-5 at Ruby Field, winning its opener, but the game was halted less than one minute into the fourth quarter when officials decided safety for the players became uncertain.
The Owls were leading 8-4 when officials ejected two players, one from each team, after a fight broke out with 1 minute, 29 seconds remaining in the third quarter. After the altercation, according to game officials, Westminster senior Gavin Bloom and MSJ sophomore Connor McVicker were ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
MSJ junior Zach Rozgonyi left the game under the concussion protocol.
Chase Buckwalter and Christian Etchison then scored 11 seconds apart to give the Owls a 10-4 lead to kick-start the fourth quarter.
Gaels junior Jack Szlankiewicz won the next face-off, carried the ball to the offensive zone, and scored to trim the deficit to 10-5. Officials stopped play after Westminster senior midfielder Max Nave took a hard hit from MSJ sophomore Bradley David, who was ejected, and needed assistance before leaving the field.
“It felt good to start off on the right foot,” Owls senior attackman Bubba Love said. “It didn’t end the way we would have expected, but it is what it is and we have to put it past us and learn from it.”
Love and Buckwalter paced the offense with three goals apiece, and Christian Etchison notched two goals and an assist for the Owls.
Westminster never lost its lead against the Gaels (1-5) and closed out the first half with a 4-2 lead, thanks to goals from Justin Hulse, Love, Buckwalter, and Will Budzynski. Rozgonyi found the back of the net early in the third quarter in response to a shot his teammate took moments before that was saved by Owls junior goalie Logan Covey.
Etchison and Love scored 62 seconds apart to give the Owls a 6-3 lead, and Buckwalter scored his second goal of the night off a feed from Love with 3:56 remaining, sparking a 4-0 scoring run amid the physicality and ejections that took place.
“We brought the guys in and kind of tried to cut everything out as best we could,” said Owls assistant coach Brandon Johnson. “We did get some goals on the board which was nice but we do need to work on some discipline issues and they will be addressed tomorrow.”
Johnson is filling in for head coach Steve DeFeo. DeFeo is scheduled to return after the third game of the season, said Westminster athletic director Terry Molloy.
The Owls dropped their season opener at Mount St. Joe last year, 10-7, but reeled off 18 straight wins to capture their second state title in program history.
“It was nice to get our revenge from that one loss to come back and get back at them,” Love said.
Goals: MSJ-Zach Rozgonyi, Brett Callahan, Will Bateman, Connor McVicker, Jack Szlankiewicz; W-Bubba Love 3, Chase Buckwalter 3, Christian Etchison 2, Will Budzynski, Justin Hulse.