The most important message Calvert Hall boys lacrosse coach Bryan Kelly relayed to his team going into Friday’s home game against Severn was simple: Have a good time.
For the No. 4 Cardinals, that meant taking control with the game’s first four goals and having a quick answer when the No. 7 Admirals came with a second-half push.
Daniel Kelly (five goals), Jacob Kelly (two goals, three assists) and Jack Sawyer (three goals, one assist) were the offensive catalysts while goalie Liam Darragh made seven saves to help Calvert Hall claim a 13-6 win over Severn in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
The defending league champion Cardinals (11-3) improved to 5-2 in the MIAA A, while Severn (7-6) is now 4-5 in league play.
“We refocused,” Bryan Kelly said. “The thing I stressed with our kids is just have fun. I think the pressure of everything, you could just tell. I always say, 'Play with joy,' and I felt like we played with joy today and had a good time and the result took care of itself. Hopefully we can keep that rolling and keep moving. It was a good day."
Both teams had one-goal league wins Tuesday — Calvert Hall winning at No. 13 Mount Saint Joseph, 11-10, and Severn upsetting No. 3 Boys’ Latin, 8-7 — but the Cardinals seemed determined to avoid another close game.
Behind Daniel Kelly, who scored the game’s first three goals in the opening seven minutes, and some early saves from Darragh, the Cardinals controlled the first quarter to build a 4-0 lead until the closing seconds.
That’s when Dylan Gergar (three goals, two assists) provided hope for the Admirals by finishing in transition with 2 seconds left to make it 4-1.
Gergar, who finished with three goals and three assists in Tuesday’s win over the Lakers, cut the margin to 4-2 with 9:26 left in the second quarter before the Cardinals answered with goals from Grant Mitchell and Jacob Kelly to take a 6-2 lead into halftime.
The Admirals' run came late in the third quarter with the help of two man-advantage goals. They scored three goals in a little over a minute to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 9-6 with 1:06 to play in the third, but the home team made the most of the final minute.
Justin Mintzer scored off a feed from Sawyer — Jacob Kelly providing the first pass in the sequence — to make it 10-6 with 40 seconds left. Sawyer scored off a pass from Jacob Kelly with 1 second left in the quarter to make it 11-6, further lifting the Cardinals and deflating the Admirals.
“Severn is a really good team and they had a big win against BL, so we knew we had to come out early. We were able to do that,” Jacob Kelly said. “Once we got in a groove, once we’re moving the ball, then our offense is pretty hard to stop and that was good for us today.”
The teams return to action next Friday, when Severn hosts No. 5 St. Mary’s for its regular-season finale and Calvert Hall visits No. 6 St. Paul’s. The Admirals, in seventh place with the top six qualifying for the playoffs, are in need of a win along with some help.
Severn coach Joe Christie said falling behind early Friday — largely because of failed clears on defense and unforced turnovers on attack — was too much for his team to overcome against the defending league champions.
“I look at this and it’s we got a great group of guys that are athletic here, but it’s one of those things when you have that many turnovers against a good team like Calvert Hall [makes it tough],” he said.
Goals: S — Gergar 3, Boldt, Lilly, Rentz;
CH — D. Kelly 5, J. Kelly 2, G. Mitchell, Green, Sawyer 3, Mintzer
Assists: S — Kinsella, Gergar 2, Domenech;
CH — J. Kelly 3, Green, Kroneberger, Zungailia, Sawyer, G. Mitchell.
Saves: S: Emmons — 5;
CH: Darragh — 7.
Half: CH, 6-2