Annapolis boys lacrosse coach Dick Hart waited anxiously as he stood in the damp sod near the Panthers' bench during the fourth quarter of his team's season-opener against Arundel.
He had just watched the visiting Wildcats explode for a three-goal third period to overcome a 3-0 first-quarter deficit.
The Panthers' offense suddenly went as cold as the chilly night air and visionsof their game a year ago danced in his head -- the one taken, 14-7, by the Wildcats. It seemed that, like the early afternoon showers, Annapolis' offense wouldn't return.
But in a one-minute span of the final period, the Panthers' offense came to life for a 5-3 lead with two game-saving goals from freshman Taylor Boone and Dan Flynn (two goals).
Arundel's Jason McNemar tallied with 4 minutes, 35 seconds remaining but the Panthers held them off for the 5-4 victory.
"At the end, we showed a lot of poise by coming back, because we were really pumped for this game," said Hart, whose squad was the Class 4A/3Astate runner-up last year with a 12-5 record. "But let me tell you something right now. We're not going to get too high about this or toolow about this. Granted, it was a big game and the first game of theyear, but we've got 14 other games to worry about."
Arundel continually failed to set up its offense against an Annapolis defense of Chad Clay, Brendan Bollotte and Mike Lyninski who rarely gave ground. Pat Flynn, who roamed freely throughthe midfield, collected seven ground balls for the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats were missing passes to the players cutting in or making passes to players who weren't there.
They also failed to capitalize early in the second quarter, when the Panthers were penalized five times and Arundel had a two-man advantage -- and a three-man advantage for 30 seconds.
Although the Wildcats out-shot the Panthers, 8-2, in the period, Annapolis keeper Tony Knight (10 saves) made six saves -- including four from point-blank range.
Arundel's best passing sequence came with under a minute left in the half when Chris Turner found Kirk Fowler streaking in on Knight from the right side. Knight deflected the shot from Fowler wide to the left, however, and seconds later parried an attemptby David Livingston from in close.
"Big mistakes in the fundamentals and in catching and throwing," said Arundel coach Clint Gosnell, who was missing his best player, Jeff Farr, who suffered a broken legin practice and is out indefinitely.
"They (the Wildcats) had thejitters, and they're a lot better team than that. I can't seem to find the solution to that, but it's early."
The Wildcats finally were able to punch the ball home in thethird period, scoring three timesto tie the game at 3-3.
The tying goal came with 20 seconds left in the third period when Chris Hoffman tallied on a relay from Chris Turner.
Earlier in the period, Arundel's Kirk Fowler made it 3-1 with just 40 seconds gone. Teammate Andy Goeller then scored on a man-up situation less than a minute later, and Annapolis' lead suddenly was cut to 3-2.
With 4:20 left, Cory Turner had an apparent game-tying goal disallowed when it was ruled the referee had blown his whistle for a penalty before the shot had left his stick.
In the first quarter, the Panthers' offense -- led by Dan Flynn and Christian Boone (two goals, one assist) -- continually attacked the Wildcats' defensive crease from angles, out-shooting the Wildcats, 7-2.
Just 40 seconds into the game, Boone juked a defender to the right of Arundel keeper Travis Loving and rifled a chest-level shot into the far corner for a 1-0 lead.
His next score came with 5:30 left in the periodwhen Jon Songey -- standing out on the far side -- found him about eight yards out. Boone drilled that goal home between several defenders who screened Loving's vision. Then Flynn scored his goal unassisted.
"It's a big game, and it was important for us to win it tonight," said Boone. "But we know we've got a long way before we get to the state championships."