The No. 1 Calvert Hall lacrosse team has shown a knack for imposing its will on opponents, and that didn’t take long against No. 2 St. Paul’s on Tuesday.
The host Cardinals scored nine unanswered goals in the first quarter and were ahead by 13 at the half in a dominant 16-6 win in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
The win puts the Cardinals at 13-1 overall and 8-0 in league play, wrapping up first place and a opening-round bye in the playoffs for the two-time defending league champions.
St. Paul’s (10-3, 6-2) came into the game closest to the Cardinals in the standings, but the home team showed a decisive gap with what coach Bryan Kelly described as the team’s finest half of the season.
Freshman Truitt Sunderland (three goals, two assists) got things started with two of his goals and an assist, helping the Cardinals to a 3-0 lead in the game’s first four minutes. Goalie Jackson Marshall made two of his seven saves early, the Cardinals won seven of nine faceoffs in the first quarter and dominated on ground balls to take hold of the game early.
“They just played really great lacrosse,” Kelly said. “I thought we did a good job with our pace and sharing the ball and making the right reads and we shot the ball well.”
With Chris Cottone doing most of the work on faceoffs and consistently getting the Cardinals the ball, the attack did much of the rest with precise work. Daniel Kelly (four goals), Jack Sawyer (three goals, one assist), Grant Mitchell (two goals, one assist) and Cole Herbert (three assists) all contributed.
After Herbert found Kelly to make it 4-0 with 4:19 to play, Cottone won the ensuing faceoff and took it straight to goal for a 5-0 advantage seconds later.
When the Crusaders had the ball early, the Cardinals were relentless getting it back. Defenseman Jake Snyder had a takeaway in the middle of the field and found Sawyer, who made it 6-0 with 3:08 left in the first quarter. The Crusaders didn’t score their first goal until Seth Higgins scored with two minutes left into the second quarter.
“It’s a rivalry game, a tough MIAA A matchup, so it’s pretty easy to get up for it,” Daniel Kelly said. “They’re a great opponent, a really well-coached team with great players on the field, but we knew if we could come out and do what we had to do and play with focus and intensity and take it one play at a time, we could get the job. That’s what we did.”
To the Crusaders’ credit, they stayed with it and outscored the Cardinals in the second half to come out of the disappointing performance with something positive to build on. Troy Barthelme scored two goals and goalie Jamie Grant made 11 saves.
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“Credit to them first off, but we couldn’t have played a worse first quarter,” St. Paul’s coach Trey Whitty said. “We were just undisciplined, missed ground balls. I clearly didn’t have us ready to go — I thought I did — but we weren’t.”
The Crusaders, who fell to third place after St. Mary’s (10-5, 7-2) defeated Severn on Tuesday night, will try to bounce back when they host Loyola Blakefield at 4 p.m. Friday.
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“I’m proud we just kept fighting, battling and showed a little something at the end there,” Whitty said. “This isn’t the championship game. This isn’t the end of the road for us. So there’s some value in that second half that we can take away hopefully to make us better.”
Calvert Hall will travel to Archbishop Spalding on Friday with game time set for 4 p.m.