St. Paul's has had to rally many times to keep its current 33-game winning streak alive, but yesterday was not one of them.
Behind nine points from sophomore attackman Tucker Radebaugh, the top-ranked Crusaders rolled to a 16-5 win over No. 8 Mount St. Joseph in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference game.
With the win, St. Paul's (12-0, 11-0) clinched first place in Division I of the A Conference and the top seed in the conference playoffs.
Mount St. Joseph (7-5, 3-5) dropped farther behind second-place St. Mary's (9-4, 7-4) in Division II of the conference.
The top two teams from each division make the playoffs.
The Crusaders controlled the game from the opening faceoff and took the lead on Ben Strutt's unassisted goal 13 seconds later.
St. Paul's scored the next six goals to build a 7-0 lead with 6:03 left in the second quarter.
Mount St. Joseph's Brian Cooke scored the Gaels' first goal with 3:54 left in the first half, but St. Paul's scored the next five goals to take a 12-1 lead into halftime.
Junior attackman Jamie Pollock scored all of his game-high four goals in the first half, and Radebaugh had two goals and five assists.
"I anticipated a tough one from St. Joe, but our kids played well today," said St. Paul's coach Mitch Whiteley, whose Crusaders had won four of their previous five games by two goals or fewer. "When we're on, we're really on."
In the first half, Mount St. Joseph attempted to slow the game by holding the ball on offense, but the Crusaders' defense seemed to turn every loose ball and every save by goalie Sean Keenan into a fast breaks.
The Crusaders bombarded St. Joe goalie Sean Gaiser, one of the best in the area, with 27 first-half shots.
"A lot of people are talking about St. Joe's goalie, but our kids think Sean Keenan is better," said Whiteley. "They were motivated to put some shots in early and support [Keenan] a little."
In the second half, with each team's reserves playing, St. Paul's and Mount St. Joseph scored four goals each.
The Crusaders finished with a 43-32 shot advantage.
"We definitely did not want to be in another one-goal game," said senior attackman Michael Watson. "It's great to get some points on the board early."