By game's end yesterday, the most prominent features on the St. Paul's lacrosse field were the dozens of pools of mud.
Several inches deep in some spots, they turned the home whites dark and dingy, the ball into a tiny gray sponge and players' legs into drippy Fudgsicle pops.
For the top-ranked Crusaders, however, an 8-7 double-overtime win over No. 2 Gilman in the season opener for both teams made drudging through two hours of driving rain seem more than worthwhile.
"You couldn't even run in it," said St. Paul's' Michael Watson. "It was basically just a brawl. We just wanted to get that last goal and get out of here."
And the senior took care of that.
With the game tied, 7-7 at 57 seconds into the second overtime, Watson drove through the middle and fired a shot past Greyhounds goalie Corie Popham to end the game and touch off a wild, but soggy, celebration.
"We just ran an isolation play," said Watson, who scored 49 goals last season to earn All-Metro honors. "I was supposed to hit Tucker [Radebaugh] coming around the goal. But I just kept driving and got a step on my man, and I shot it right off the stick side."
The win extended St. Paul's' winning streak to an area-best 25 games, and kept the Crusaders (1-0 in the league, 1-0 overall) the team to beat in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division II.
"It was a big win for us," said St. Paul's coach Mitch Whiteley. "Gilman's a very, very good team. In the division, a win like this under these conditions ought to give us a good boost.
For much of the game, however, it was the Greyhounds (0-1, 0-1) who seemed boosted.
With the Crusaders' up-tempo of fense stuck in the mud, Gilman took the initiative, jumping out to a 2-1 lead on a Peter McGill goal assisted by Mike Allan with 2:14 left in the first quarter.
The Greyhounds stayed in control for most of the game, and led 7-6 before John Solter scored the tying goal unassisted from in front with 2:44 left in regulation.
Midway through the first overtime, Stuart Kesmodel then nearly gave Gilman the win, firing a shot from close range just wide right of the net.
"We just couldn't get things going offensively," Whiteley said. "Normally we really get the ball moving up and down the field. It was tough to move the ball crisply in this type of weather."
"I think it affected both teams," said Watson, who along with Jamie Pollock and Billy Ruhl scored two goals for St. Paul's. "We normally like to run up the field and bing, bing, bing, goal. Today, we just had to settle it up and try to work it around.
"It was just muddy."