Ground balls, sharing the ball on attack and sound defense.
The No. 1 Calvert Hall lacrosse team once again had everything working Saturday afternoon at Gilman, having an edge in every facet over the No. 6 Greyhounds to claim a 15-7 win in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
Jack Sawyer and Grant Mitchell each finished with four goals and an assist; Daniel Kelly scored once and had five assists; the Cardinals ate up ground balls in the middle and defenseman Parker Byrd was a key cog.
The two-time defending league champions improved to 12-1 overall and 7-0 in the MIAA, while the Greyhounds go to 8-4 and 4-3.
After yielding the game’s first goal, the Cardinals scored the next four. Then, after leading 6-3 at the half, the Cardinals took complete charge in the second half.
“I feel like we have some things that we got to keep improving on. I do think [we] play well as a team and it’s not about one guy,” Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. “That’s what we’ve always stressed and I think our kids have done a good job of doing that. We still got a lot of hard lacrosse left and we haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
The Greyhounds were coming off an emotional overtime win against Loyola Blakefield on Tuesday, had the big home crowd on Saturday and got a nifty goal from Logan Paff in the game’s first minute. But the Cardinals, as they have shown all season, controlled play for long stretches and proved to be too much. They got two goals from Grant Mitchell in a 4-0 run and then built on their halftime lead with the dominating second half.
“We work hard in practice every single day. We have great scout players that prepare us really well offensively and defensively. Our compete level was really there today,” said Byrd, a North Carolina-bound senior who was assigned Greyhounds standout attackman Sam King to mark. “We went down 1-0 in the beginning and then dominated on ground balls, fought back and got up by four or five at one point. They got one, kind of clawed back but we kept our ground and had a good complete team win today.”
Gilman coach Brooks Matthews was relatively pleased with how the Greyhounds made the Cardinals work offensively in the first half. But that changed in the second half when the game methodically got away.
Senior goalie Noah Klein finished with 14 saves with Will Godine and Jack Tortolani each scoring twice for the Greyhounds.
“Effort in lacrosse, often you go to ground balls first and Calvert Hall just beat us up on ground balls,” Matthews said. “That in and of itself is not the entire story, but that’s where you start in lacrosse in a lot of ways. They were tenacious and tough and earned a lot of great ground balls and that put us on our heels and set a tempo for the game.”
Both teams return to action on Tuesday afternoon. Calvert Hall will host second-place St. Paul’s (10-2, 6-1), while Gilman tries to rebound at home against struggling John Carroll with both games slated for 4 p.m.
Matthews said his group has the potential to rebound from Saturday’s setback.
“You got to see what the best looks like and right now Calvert Hall is clearly the best and we saw that up close and personal,” he said. “You can look at it on film, but you got to be on the field with it. So the positives are seeing what that looks like and then being committed to getting ourselves to compete at that level. So there’s a lot we can take from this, it’s just a matter of whether we take it or not.”