When St. Mary's scored its first goal 10 seconds after a 40-minute lightning delay yesterday, one would have thought the momentum had promptly shifted in favor of the visiting and sixth-seeded Saints.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell St. Paul's.
The third-seeded and No. 3-ranked Crusaders shrugged off the quick score, tacked on five of their own in the third quarter and then skated to an 11-6 victory over the Saints in the first round of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.
The Crusaders (11-3) will meet top-ranked and second-seeded McDonogh (17-1), which was awarded a first-round bye, in Friday's 6 p.m. semifinal at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.
"We've been through a lot this year and it's very rewarding to get through it," said St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato, whose team continues to cope with last month's death of teammate Alec Schweizer. "The kids have stepped up time and time again. They've been leaning on each other and they've been a great source of strength."
Senior attackmen Pat Tracy and Conor Gill continued to be a source of offense for the Crusaders. Tracy, an Ohio State-bound left-hander, had five goals and an assist and Gill, who will continue the St. Paul's-to-Virginia pipeline, added two goals and four assists.
"We wanted to go to Hopkins so bad, that's been our goal all year. We know that if we work hard our dues will come to us," said Tracy. "We've had some setbacks this year, unfortunately, but we're still playing hard and we're still playing with heart."
Paul Spellman, who began the season listed at No. 3 on the Crusaders' depth chart, minded the muddy crease for the Crusaders and the sophomore goalie appeared to have radar on some of his 12 saves.
"Paul Spellman, who has probably played with more pressure than anyone, trying to fill Alec's shoes, was huge today in goal and Jack deVilliers, a freshman, did an outstanding job facing off," said Brocato, whose team will try to avenge an earlier 10-8 loss to McDonogh.
Tracy's first two goals came early in the second quarter and put the Crusaders ahead 4-0 when the lightning struck with 4: 48 left in the half.
A behind-the-back long-stick goal by senior defenseman John DiCamillo gave St. Paul's a seven-goal lead heading into the fourth quarter and Tracy stretched it to 10-2 by converting a feed from Gill with the 12: 15 remaining.
The Saints (6-8) strung together four goals in the fourth quarter -- three by senior Beau Pich -- before Alex Poole delivered a knockout punch with 1: 10 left.
Pub Date: 5/06/98