Coming off two straight losses and then falling behind by four goals against visiting Loyola Blakefield, the St. Paul’s lacrosse team could have continued to slide Tuesday afternoon.
Instead, the Crusaders worked desperately for a breakthrough.
When it finally arrived, they pounced and then stayed on course to set up an opportunity in overtime.
Junior attackman Braeden Klausner made the most of it, taking a short feed from senior Noah Chizmar and promptly finishing from the left side with 2:22 left in the four-minute extra period to give St. Paul’s a 9-8 win over the Dons.
Goalie Max Watkinson made his eighth save less than a minute before to help give the Crusaders possession. After a timeout and swift ball movement, the ball found its way to Chizmar, who was quickly double-teamed before his heads-up flip to Klausner.
A well-earned celebration soon followed. Both St. Paul’s and Loyola are now 2-2 overall and in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
Klausner called it a team win. And a big one at that.
“It’s just all about ball movement and playing like a team,” he said. “Chiz was taking on two guys, so I just popped into an open area, got the ball and finished it.
“It’s more just the team [than being the game’s hero]. We had lost two in a row — one to a good Spalding team and one we should have gotten against Severn. So we just kind of put everything together, kept our heads down working hard and were trying to get a win.”
The Dons were methodical in building a 4-0 lead deep into the second quarter, and senior goalie Jack Webb stopped the home team’s first six shots. But Chizmar (one goal, three assists) came from behind the cage and finished with a high shot to break the ice with 3:22 left in the first half. It energized the Crusaders as they got goals from Grady O’Day, Kabe Clark and Daniel Davis in the final 1:21 of the second quarter to find themselves even at 4.
Getting a strong performance at the faceoff circle from Davis and consecutive third-quarter goals from O’Day and Klasuner, St. Paul’s took a 7-5 lead into the fourth quarter.
The lead was 8-6 midway through the fourth quarter when the Dons made a push, pulling within one on a goal from Mason Cook with 3:11 left before Charlie Koras tied it with 1:44 to play in regulation.
But after claiming the first possession in overtime, Henry Tolker’s rip from the right side was turned away by Watkinson for Klausner to have the final say at the other end.
“It’s a young and inexperienced group and today we found out you have to execute your game plan the entire time,” St. Paul’s coach Trey Whitty said. “We’ve had pockets here and there of playing really good lacrosse. But in this league to win, it has to be the whole time. I’m proud of the guys to just continue to chip away, chip away, chip away.”
Loyola coach Gene Ubriaco thought the Dons could have built a bigger lead when they had the early momentum, but said the Crusaders earned their comeback win.
“To St. Paul’s credit, I thought they really outworked us,” he said. “Their first goal got them a lot of juice and they got on that run there. It’s a tough league, and if you keep teams around and — like I said before — to their credit, they beat us today.”
Mason Cook and Matt Burnam each finished with two goals and one assist for the Dons, who got 10 saves from Webb.
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