Boys’ Latin faced a significant test with defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference lacrosse champion Calvert Hall visiting Friday.
The No. 3 Lakers, who had lost two straight with the latest being a disheartening loss to No. 4 Loyola Blakefield on Tuesday, had already received a challenge going into the game.
It came from Lakers coach Brian Farrell during Wednesday’s film study.
He had direct and measured words for his team.
“It was a gut check. That’s what we kept telling the guys,” he said. “How tough are we? Can we dig deep and pull something out?”
The Lakers responded with one of their best practices of the season and it translated into an 8-5 win over the No. 2 Cardinals.
All-Metro senior goalie and captain Chris Brandau made 13 saves, senior midfielder Brenden Crouse scored three goals and the Lakers won all the important battles to put their two-game slide behind them.
Boys’ Latin (9-3) improved to 4-2 in the MIAA A Conference, while Calvert Hall (9-3) fell to 3-2 in league play.
“This one was huge. Obviously, you can’t drop a lot of games in this league, especially with it being so competitive this year,” Brandau said. “So I thought we really needed to come out and make a stand. I think our coaching staff did a great job of game planning and our defense played with a lot of heart today. It was great to see.”
Other than a 2-minute stretch early in the second quarter — when they were down a man on a nonrelaeasable penalty that resulted in three of the Cardinals’ goals — the Lakers were the more efficient team.
Tied at 3 at the half, Crouse and Cole Erickson scored early in the third quarter to set the tone. With Konner Caplin making it 6-3 on an extra-man goal with 2:23 left in the third quarter, the Lakers were able to stay the course.
Farrell praised Brandau’s play, highlighted by a six-save second quarter when the Lakers spent much of the time on defense.
“When your backs are against the wall, you look for senior captains to take over, and I can’t say enough about him as a person, as a goalie and as a leader of this team. He was excellent,” Farrell said.
It’s the Cardinals’ turn to take stock after a performance which coach Bryan Kelly described as having no juice or flow.
“Nothing to take away from Boys’ Latin, I thought they played great, but I was very disappointed with the way we played more than anything else,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to play hard, play smart and play together. I thought the guys played hard, I don’t think we played smart and you can’t play together if all six guys on offense don’t play together.”
Junior midfielder Grant Mitchell led the Cardinals with two goals and two assists.
The teams take to the road Tuesday with the Lakers visiting No. 8 Severn and the Cardinals looking to bounce back at No. 14 Mount Saint Joseph with both games set for 4 p.m.
Goals: CH — G. Mitchell 2, C. Mitchell, D. Kelly, Ilardo; BL — Crouse 3, Grimes, Erickson, Smith, M. Brandau, Caplin. Assists: CH — Herbert, J. Kelly, G. Mitchell 2, C. Mitchell; BL — M. Brandau 2, .
Saves: CH — Darragh 3, Marshall 1; BL — C. Brandau 13. Half: 3-3