Pieced back together and growing more confident, the Calvert Hall lacrosse team continues to find its way after battling through injuries and a slow start in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
The upward trend continued in an impressive way against visiting Archbishop Spalding on Tuesday.
The No. 8 Cardinals kept the visitors scoreless through the first half while building a sizable advantage. When the No. 4 Cavaliers responded, Calvert Hall was ready.
Five Cardinals finished with three or more points — led by Truitt Sunderland’s two-goal, three-assist performance — and freshman goalie Brady Stangle made eight saves in a 13-8 win in Towson.
After starting 1-3 in league play and falling to seventh place at this time last week, the Cardinals (11-4) have won four straight league games to improve to 5-3 as the regular season nears its conclusion.
On Tuesday, they built a 7-0 halftime lead only to see the Cavaliers (10-4, 5-3) close within 9-6 with 10:11 to play. Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly called timeout and told his players to relax. Jackson Strickland won the ensuing faceoff and the ball eventually found Shuey Kelly, who scored a pivotal goal to make it 10-6 with 9:18 to play.
In his third game back after missing significant time with a wrist injury, the junior attackman finished with three goals and one assist.
“It feels great to be back on the field with everyone and it’s a lot of fun,” Shuey Kelly said. “We’re clicking at the right time. I don’t think it’s because of me, I just think we’re all buying in and I think we’ve grown more unselfish and everyone is just ‘The team, the team, the team.’”
Tuesday’s offensive balance provided proof.
Jordan Wray scored three goals and Wyatt Hottle and Davis Provost each posted two goals and one assist. Add in the fine defensive work in the first half — with defenseman Luke McAuliffe often covering Spalding standout Michael Weisshaar — and it was a complete win and another step forward.
“Our kids are playing hard and they’re competing,” Bryan Kelly said. “I just wanted them to go out and play with competitive greatness today and try to compete — that’s mentally and physically.”
The surging confidence and strong work in net by Stangle, who started the season as the Cardinals’ third-string goalie, has been a microcosm of the team’s climb. The Cardinals led 12-8 with 1:45 to play, but the Cavaliers were still pressing when he made the last two of his stops in succession from point-blank range.
With two games remaining in the regular season, McAuliffe likes where the team is at.
“I really just think it’s a good mindset — our team is really together,” he said. “I think there’s always expectations and you just got to go in there and weather every storm. Any team can win in the MIAA — that’s been proven this season — so I think it’s just being grateful for what you have and going out and giving it your all every day.”
Spalding got three goals from Weisshaar, while Ryan Schrier scored twice and Stephen Ripley dished out three assists.
Cavaliers coach Brian Phipps was quick to credit the Cardinals for executing early and building off their fine play. In the end, he was happy to see his squad follow his halftime orders to get close in the second half.
“We challenged our guys at halftime not to look at the scoreboard, just play that next possession to see what we’re made of and how much heart we have,” he said. “I’m proud of our guys for coming out and competing in that second half because we have to treat everything like a playoff game moving forward, and that’s how we treated that second half.”
Spading returns to action Thursday when it hosts No. 1 St. Mary’s at 4 p.m. The Cavaliers close out the regular season Tuesday when they travel to Mount Saint Joseph for a 4 p.m. start. Calvert Hall wraps up the regular season by hosting Severn at 7 p.m. Friday and visiting Loyola Blakefield at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Goals: AS—Weisshaar 3, Schrier 2, D’Ambrosi, Gutierrez, Poknis; CH—S. Kelly 3, Wray 3, Hottle 2, Sunderland 2, Provost 2, Vasile
Assists: AS—Ripley 3; CH—Hottle, S. Kelly, Sunderland 3, Provost
Saves: AS—McMahon 10; CH—Stangle 8
Half: CH, 7-0