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Defense takes center stage for St. Mary’s lacrosse at Gilman in Friday’s 7-6 win

With its lead down to a goal and still a man down in the closing two minutes at Gilman, the St. Mary’s lacrosse team did what it has for much of the season Friday — keep together and enjoy the challenge.

The Saints stayed organized in the anxious moment, one well-defended shot by the Greyhounds sprayed wide and a wraparound chance a bit later ending up on the side of the net. The efficient work by the defense gave the Saints the ball back with a little more than a minute left and they safely ran out the clock to secure a 7-6 win over Gilman in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.

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Sophomore attackman Nick Golini had three goals and one assist, while goalie Wes Schmidt anchored a defense that limited the Greyhounds to just one goal in the entire fourth quarter.

St. Mary’s improves to 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the MIAA, while Gilman (2-6) falls to 1-6 in league play.

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For the Saints, confidence came with the final two minutes.

“In the MIAA, there’s a lot of close games — almost every game — and I thought our defense held tight the entire game. I thought our clearing was great and I thought our offense really stuck it down there for most of the game,” said Schmidt, who finished with four saves.

As for the final man-down situation with two minutes left, he added: “We just talked about really just communicating. It was tough sometimes with how windy it was — but we just kept talking and it paid off there at the end.”

Neither team was able to build any momentum with St. Mary’s owning the biggest lead at 7-4 when Dom Rafter scoring off a feed from Will Hopkins (one goal, two assists) with 7:15 to play in the third quarter.

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Gilman’s Tucker Hebert scored his second goal with 3.5 seconds left in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 7-5 heading into the fourth.

But the Saints defense — Colin Burlace, Jack Cratty and Sam Palmisano working in close with strong play from midfielder Wyatt Cotton — proved up to speed in front of Schmidt.

Saint coach Victor Lilly said the tough assignment with May approaching will bode well moving forward.

“It’s always a tough game when you come up here and you get what you pay for — it was a great game from both teams,” he said. “In my 17 years of coaching at St. Mary’s, the MIAA is a one-goal league and this is what gets you ready for the playoffs and hopefully the coveted championship at the end.”

For the Greyhounds, their hard work didn’t end up with the result they fought for. Coach John Nostrant was quick to mention goalie Kyle Morris’ sensational 11-save performance and was impressed with JJ Brummett’s work on faceoffs. He’s hoping it’s just a matter of time to find better outcomes.

“We played hard, but just making too many lacrosse mistakes,” he said.

“The guys are capable with their stick work and decision making. … We just got to keep trying, keep grinding and try to figure it out. They want to win and we want them to feel good as a team. There’s no substitution for hard work, so we’ll just keep getting after it. Now, they know they can stay with a well-coached, very good team like St. Mary’s, so that should bode well for us heading into May.”

Both teams return to the field on Tuesday with 4:15 p.m. league games. St. Mary’s travels to Boys’ Latin, while Gilman remains at home against Mount Saint Joseph.

Goals: SM — Golini 3; Barcus, Brimhall, Hopkins, Rafter. G — Baddley, Ryu, Woloson, Hebert 2, Pope. Assists: SM — C. Burlace, Keane, Hopkins 2, Golini; G — Woloson, Baddley 2. Saves: SM — Schmidt 4; G — Morris 11. Half: SM, 5-4

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