John Carroll's boys lacrosse team barely had time to celebrate Tuesday's 2-1 overtime thriller against McDonogh before Coach Boo Smith started thinking about the rematch.
Smith's sigh of relief passed away quickly after Greg Rogers scored the game winner just 20 seconds into overtime. But the victory smile remained as Smith talked about facing McDonogh again this Friday for the MSA BB Conference championship.
"It's hard to beat a good team three times," said Smith, whose squad won a 5-3 game at McDonogh earlier this year. "The last time, we jumped out to an early lead. Then, it settled down to exactly the same type of (defensive) game. I don't see it being any different (in the championship)."
Even though the defending champion Patriots (11-3 overall, 8-0 league) swept both regular-season meetings with McDonogh (8-5, 6-2), they will have to beat the Eagles again to win the conference championship. The title game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
In the first meeting threeweeks ago, John Carroll took an early lead en route to the 5-3 win. But Tuesday's game looked as if it might last half the night. In eachgame, both teams played well defensively, but neither could generatemuch offense.
"There's no question we came downfield and threw itaway a lot," said Smith. "Sloppy play on both sides really kept the score down."
In overtime, the Eagles made a critical error -- a bad pass right beside their own goal. Rogers picked off the pass. That set him up one-on-one with McDonogh goalie Andy Barnes (eight saves).
The Patriots had a chance to win earlier in the overtime period after Brian Yeager controlled the faceoff. He passed to Tim Ferriter, who stepped and fired a hurried side-arm shot that missed the goal far wide.
Smith called a timeout to settle the offense, but the Patriots came right out and threw the ball away. McDonogh defenseman CaryKrefetz intercepted the pass, but then he tried to force a pass up the middle that Rogers picked off for the game winner.
Defensively,the Patriots got excellent efforts from Dave Stever, Brian O'Mailey and Pete Tapley. But their offense had some problems. The Patriots showed plenty of patience and took 23 shots, but most carried high or wide.
The Patriots lost some of their offensive punch playing without veteran Zach Thornton at midfield. The senior had to fill in at goalie when the Patriots' regular was suspended from school.
"We came out knowing we were losing some offensive power with Zach in the goal," said Smith. "We wanted to control the ball more, and we did thatin the first and fourth quarters."
The Patriots got their only goal in regulation in the second quarter when Brian Turk fed Yeager on a back door cut. Yeager slipped in from the penalty box and nobody inthe McDonogh defense picked him up.
In the second half, the Patriots had 11 shots, but couldn't convert on any. However, Thornton madeup for his absence on offense with a superb performance in the nets.
A veteran soccer goalie, Thornton had played the position only once before in lacrosse, but he excelled against McDonogh with 10 saves. Leaping and diving after passes and shots, Thornton snared several amazing saves, including one in the fourth quarter.
"Zach played remarkably," said Smith. "It's nice to have an athlete like that."
Thornton not only played excellent defense, but he also got into the offense several times. Late in the fourth quarter, Thornton took the ball down for a shot on goal. Twice, he took the ball down to feed attackmen for shots.