BALTIMORE — St. Mary's boys lacrosse coach Jim Moorhead would like to have been a little more celebratory after his team's 6-4 victory over Boys' Latin in yesterday's Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference semifinals.
After all, in his 12-year tenure as coach, the last six as amember of the elite A Conference, the Saints have failed in their bid for a final berth, despite three previous opportunities.
But the temperature, which was more appropriate for mid-August than mid-May, had Moorhead both gasping for breath and searching for the right words to describe the moment.
"It's been a long road, but we made it," said Moorhead, whose team will battle St. Paul's (an 11-9 winner over Loyola) Friday for the A Conference crown. "We've been playing great team defense for the last eight weeks, and that has really been the difference.
"Our offense hasn't been producing a lot of goals lately, but the defense has come through. It's been a great,total team effort."
Anchoring the Saints' feisty defense was senior keeper Chris Brown, who recorded 15 saves, including six in the scoreless fourth period.
Brown sacrificed his body throughout the contest and, at one point in the second quarter, used his arm, leg and foot to ward off a series of shots by the Lakers.
"He just stood there tall and made some big saves," said Moorhead. "When he's go thisconfidence like he had today, he's tough to beat."
Brown agreed with Moorhead's assessment, adding, "I just tried to occupy my land. They (Boys' Latin) came out firing, and it really got me up."
The Saints (12-3 overall, 8-3 conference) never trailed in the contest.
They got their first goal from junior Eamon McCormick at the 4-minute, 17-second mark of the first quarter when he fielded a pass from Boys' Latin goalie Steve Bassford and delicately placed it in the vacant cage.
Boys' Latin answered with a goal two minutes later to tie the game.
St. Mary's scored the only goal in the second quarter totake a not-so-comfortable 2-1 lead at the half. Saints' senior midfielder David Jones scored the underhand goal on a feed from sophomore Kevin Reichardt.
The Saints, who finished the season as Division Irunner-ups behind Loyola, opened the second half with three unanswered goals, giving them a 5-1 lead.
Senior Rob Chomo, who has been "at about 60 percent" with an injured right hamstring, started things off in the third quarter when he found the net on a feed from McCormick.
Kip Gendell and Greg Geiger supplied the Saints' other two goals, Geiger's coming on an assist from McCormick with just overfive minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Lakers showed why they possessed the title of MSA A Conference Division II champions, as they tallied two goals to cut the lead to two, 5-3, with still close to four minutes left in the period.
McCormick scored his second goal of the game in the waning minutes of the third quarter, only to have it answered by Kevin Lutz of Boys' Latin.
Neither team could find the net in the fourth quarter despite 19 total shots on goal, but with a two-goal lead, the Saints weren't sweating too much.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Brown said afterward. "I can't believeit finally happened. It finally happened."