With so much talent back from last year’s league runner-up and six straight wins to open the season, St. Mary’s boys lacrosse knew it had potential.
But there’s something special about the opening game in the mighty Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, a chance for ultimate validation.
Under the lights at packed Pascal Field in Annapolis, the No. 3 Saints started fast and never let up against No. 4 Calvert Hall.
With the visiting Cardinals opening the game with a 10-man ride on defense, Saints senior Wyatt Cotton took advantage when he scored into the open net on a shot past midfield in the opening minute. Carrying on that energy throughout, St. Mary’s claimed a stunningly comfortable 13-3 win over the Cardinals.
Senior midfielder Gavin Burlace led the balanced attack with a three-goal, two-assist performance; faceoff specialists Teddy Androus and Justin Webber controlled the “X” and goalie Shea Kennedy made seven saves.
St. Mary’s improved to 7-0 overall and 1-0 in the MIAA, while Calvert Hall fell to 1-4 and 0-1.
In building a 7-2 halftime advantage and never letting the Cardinals gain momentum, the Saints also got a two-goal, one-assist effort from Jake Adams. Erik Chick and Bobby Keane each scored twice.
“I think the first game in the MIAA is when the real fun starts, the real season begins,” said Burlace, a captain. “It didn’t take long for us to get fired up after Wyatt scored the empty netter.”
It was an alert play from Cotton to set the tone.
“I just got the clear, heard the call out that we had the empty net and kind of launched it and got it. I was really excited,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do for the celebration. It really got us going early, got the energy up and kind of just stayed on it all game.”
Before the Cardinals abandoned the defensive scheme, the Saints made them pay a second time when Steven Schummer scored from far out minutes later. Burlace was the catalyst in keeping the momentum going for the home team with three of his goals and an assist coming before the break. By game’s end, eight Saints had scored.
“Offensively, we’ve all been playing together since our sophomore year and we had a tough time that year because we were all so young,” Burlace said. “But last year, we got better and now this year we’re playing really well together. We got really good chemistry and have developed our game playing together.”
St. Mary’s coach Victor Lilly was ecstatic about the complete performance but was quick to make his team aware it is only one win.
“We’re 1-0 against a very good Calvert Hall program. As I told my team, when we looked at that scoreboard at the end of the night, we saw 13-3, but what we really saw is 1-0,” he said.
The Cardinals got two goals from Wyatt Hottle and a 12-save performance from goalie Alex Swartz.
Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly credited the Saints’ readiness and took much the same approach as Lilly: it’s only one game of a long season.
“A tough one. They came out and they were two or three steps faster than us in everything,” Kelly said.
“You’re never as good as you look and you’re never as bad as you look. ... We just got to move on. This game is over, we’ll learn from it and we’ll take everything from it to figure out how we can get better.”
Both teams return to the field at 4 p.m. Tuesday. St. Mary’s continues MIAA A Conference play, traveling to Loyola Blakefield, while Calvert Hall hosts New York-based Victor.
Goals: CH — Hottle 2, Kelly; SM — Adams 2, Chick 2, Keane 2, Burlace 3, Cotton, Schummer, Golini, Goers Assists: CH — Strickland; SM — Burlace 2, Adams, Golini Saves: CH — Swartz 12; SM — Kennedy 7 Half: SM, 7-2