Calvert Hall coach Mike Thomas says "anything can happen" with this year's young and inexperienced Cardinals.
Thomas had to love what happened yesterday.
Spurred by sophomore attackman Greg Patchak's four goals and three assists, the eighth-ranked Cardinals upset visiting and No. 5 St. Paul's, 10-3, in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association game.
The win came four days after Calvert Hall (7-3 overall, 4-2 in the MIAA) dropped a 6-4 nonleague decision to Arundel.
"The thing I have to understand is that we've got a lot of new kids playing," said Thomas. "I should learn to expect that [this year] is going to be full of ups and downs.
"That's hard for me because I expect us to do well every day we go out there."
Yesterday, the Cardinals met Thomas' expectations from the start.
Calvert Hall jumped out to a 3-0 lead at halftime and increased the margin to 7-1 with 1:11 gone in the fourth quarter.
Patchak had a hand in five of the seven goals. The sophomore, who saw a lot of action last year as a freshman, beat his defender one-on-one for three unassisted scores, and fed seniors David Federline and Joe Silvestri on two other goals.
"He's always got the green light," said Thomas. "Sometimes it gets a little too green, and we have to settle him down.
"But then he finds the open man, and that's also something that he does very well."
While Patchak was giving the St. Paul's defense fits, Calvert Hall goalie Strider Dickson was making life hard for the Crusaders' offense.
The senior, who finished with 14 saves, didn't allow St. Paul's (7-2, 4-2) to score its first goal until 5:26 was left in the third quarter. By that time, Calvert Hall had the game well in hand.
"I think Strider is the best goalie around," said Thomas. "Our defense is young, and he's made the difference in shutting most teams down."
Dickson and the Cardinals have allowed an average of just 5.7 goals in their six MIAA contests, and that figure is bloated somewhat by a 12-6 loss to top-ranked Boys' Latin.
St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato thought Dickson's play early in the game was the key to Calvert Hall's victory.
"Strider played a great game in the goal," said Brocato. "He thwarted some of our shots early and broke some of our guys' concentration."
St. Paul's peppered Dickson with 10 shots in the first quarter, but the goalie, with help from hard-checking defensemen Casey Connor, Eric Fifer, Adam Tremper and Jon Torpey, held the Crusaders scoreless.
"It feels great to play like that against a great offensive team like St. Paul's," said Dickson. "We thought we could just walk onto the field and beat Arundel, but today we came to play.
"This is the real Calvert Hall."