Moments after Annapolis' 8-3 boys lacrosse victory over visiting Severna Park Friday night, Chris Stauder had so much mud caked on his uniform you could barely read the No. 13 on the front of his jersey.
Minutes earlier, the senior goalkeeper had stared down the Falcons' offense, diving face-first in the mire several times, for 12 saves and four ground balls.
It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it.
"The shots thatthey took, it's my job to save them. But all the credit goes to the defense for shutting them down," said Stauder. "Our offense just needed to kick in, and once we score a goal, there's no looking back."
Dan Flynn (four goals, one assist), Chris Turner and Christian Boone(each with one goal and three assists), and Jon Songey and Mike Lytle (each with a goal) out-scored the Falcons, 5-1, in the second half and, 3-1, in the third quarter.
But Severna Park coach Ed Ulrich credited Stauder with single-handedly stealing the heart away from hissquad, which had a 2-0 lead in the first 3 minutes, 30 seconds of the game.
"He broke us mentally," said Ulrich. "We had some terrificshots, but he had some terrific saves. I think after he made a couple of real tough saves, the kids began to doubt they could get anything by him."
Case in point: Just after Flynn had tallied the Panthers' first goal, cutting Severna Park's lead to 2-1, Stauder sparked his club with a diving save of a Paul Rakowski shot from in close.
Encouraged by the effort, the Panthers owned the entire second period,out-shooting the Falcons, 13-2 -- 12-0 for the first six minutes -- thanks to the stingy defense of Chad Clay, Dean Samaras (five ground balls) and Brendan Bellotte.
Annapolis had a man-up advantage whenBob Evans had to sit out the first three minutes for an illegal stick. Already pinned against their own goal by the Panthers' offense, the Falcons held their own until a 30-second penalty gave Annapolis a two-man advantage, and Turner penetrated to tie the game 2:19 into thesecond period.
Then, with 5:55 left in the half, Songey took an assist from Flynn to give the Panthers their first lead, 3-2.
Stauder stymied the Falcons' first on-goal shot of the period by Evans.
"Our defense won the ballgame for us," said Annapolis coach Dan Hart, whose Panthers (4-2 overall, 4-0 in the county 4A league) blasted Old Mill, 14-5, in their last outing.
"Our goalkeeper had a hell ofa ballgame, and I can't say enough about him. We went with Stauder against Old Mill and he only gave up two goals. He's our first-string goalkeeper right now, but it's still a close battle (with Tony Knight)."
The game was a rematch of last year's Class 4A state semifinals, won by Annapolis after having lost the regular-season meeting.
In its last outing, Severna Park (2-2 in the 4A league) hammered Queen Anne's, 14-2, but the Panthers are just in another class.
The Falcons were without two starters who are likely lost for the season. Midfielder Travis Gray broke his collarbone against Queen Anne's, and defender Nate Ripple is off the team for disciplinary reasons.
Still, the Falcons jumped out to an early 2-0 first-quarter lead after Mike Crawford surprised Stauder by feeding Evans and Owen Glister on similar behind-the-goal plays.
"After losing to St. Mary's (a 15-1 loss) last weekend, we just wanted to keep our heads up," said Dan Flynn.