When the St. Mary's and Southern girls lacrosse teams meet, being a goalkeeper is among the most unenviable of positions.
Each team traditionally is loaded offensively and each comes out dead-set on emptying its entire arsenal into the net behind the goalie.
It can truly ruin one's peace of mind. Just ask Bulldogs keeper Landra Phillips.
"They have a lot of good offensive players, and they were just coming so close to me -- right down your throat," said Phillips, who recorded 15 saves in her team's 16-14 losing effort to the visiting Saints (2-0) yesterday.
Like last year's contest -- won, 17-14, by St. Mary's -- the game was set at a furious pace and wasa brilliant display of offensive wizardry.
The Bulldogs (0-1) led, 2-0, just 2 minutes, 45 seconds into the game on goals by Talaya Barnett (six goals) and Liza Bigger (one goal, one assist).
But St. Mary's Randall Goldsborough (three goals, one assist) sparked a 25-second, three-goal burst by the Saints midway through the first half asthey overcame a 5-4 deficit for a 7-5 lead. They never trailed again.
The Saints, who defeated South River, 19-8, in their season-opener Friday, led, 10-8, at the half.
"In the beginning we were a little slow to start off, but once we got our heads together, we were united and coherent," said Kirsten Bowman (five goals), who leads the Saints with nine goals in two games.
Teammate Mandy Lewis (four goals, one assist against Southern) is the second-leading scorer with seven goals and two assists.
Jenny Young, Southern's second-leading scorer last year with 39 goals and 23 assists, had five goals in the game. However, St. Mary's coach Tina Lewnes made some defensive adjustments that effectively slowed Young and Barnett early in the second half.
"Lindsey Moreland stayed on (Young) and she marked her tightin the second half," Lewnes said. "Southern usually plays a fast game and runs it a lot, but we did well against it."
Although she hadmore goals yesterday than in all of last season (four), Barnett was having her problems with St. Mary's Dara McNew.
"The first half they had a loose defense on us, and in the second half they were just smothering us," said Barnett, a defender last year. "In the second half, No. 23 (McNew) didn't leave me for the rest of the game."
St. Mary's Margaret Rose scored her only goal of the game just 16 seconds into the second half before Goldsborough scored to give the Saints their biggest lead of the game, 12-8, and the Bulldogs never came closer than two goals after that.
Saints keeper Amy Pardo (20 saves) blocked the Bulldogs' first six shots of the half before Amy Gamble's goal made it 12-9 with 18 minutes left in the game.
"They were shooting low on (Pardo) and she made some great saves," Lewnes said. "That helped us a lot and kept the girls up."
The Saints were still ahead, 15-12, after the next five minutes as the two teams traded goals. St. Mary's got a pair of goals from Lewis and another from Bowman while Barnett, Michelle Howard and Young scored for Southern.
Barnett pulled the Bulldogs to within 15-13 before Melissa Wasowski tallied for St. Mary's.
Young capped the day's scoring for the final margin.
"I thought the whole difference in the game was that they were a little more polished than we were," said fifth-year Southern coach Linda Kilpatrick, whose Bulldogs won three consecutive Class 2A regional-state titles before finishing as the Class 2A/1A runner-up lastyear.
The Saints had a 18-12 edge in first-half shots. Their penetration resulted in 10 free-position attempts -- three of which endedwith goals being scored -- compared with just two free attempts for the Bulldogs.
Trailing, 2-0, the Saints answered with goals by Bowman and Lewis to knot the score, 2-2, just 6:55 into the first period.
Young scored off of a shovel shot to put the Bulldogs up, 3-2, and then had an apparent fourth goal disallowed because of a crease violation. But her teammate, Bigger, sprinted in to put the Bulldogs up, 4-2.
Back-to-back goals from Lewis and Julie Dodd tied the scoreat 4 again before Barnett gave the Bulldogs a one-goal lead.
Goldsborough, a junior, then drilled a pair of unassisted goals past Phillips. She then stole the ensuing draw, sprinted to the left of Phillips and fed Bowman on the right.
Young and Barnett scored to tie the score at 7, but Bowman came through with a pair of goals, to put her squad up, 9-7.
Lewis scored for the Saints as did Barnett as theSaints closed the first half leading, 10-8.
Said Kilpatrick: "Because of my basketball commitment, we were a little later starting practice than usual. If I had to pick, I wouldn't have opened with St. Mary's, but we played them better and tougher than last year."