Maybe Severn should find a different opponent to open its Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference schedule.
St. Paul's doesn't seem to be the answer.
For the second straight year, the Admirals lost at home to St. Paul's in their conference opener. Yesterday, junior attackman Michael Watson scored three goals and senior goalie Tom Keratzes made a save with 10 seconds left, lifting the top-ranked Crusaders over No. 3 Severn, 7-6.
The Admirals gained possession with 36 seconds left when defenseman Dave Lachapelle stripped the ball from Watson behind the Severn net. Todd Muendel passed to Jason Hurst on the left side, but the senior attackman's shot from inside five yards was stopped by Keratzes (13 saves).
"We usually play them early and it's usually a game like this," said Admirals coach Rob White, who missed last year's defeat while in Fort Bragg, N.C., with his Special Forces unit in the reserves.
Severn had won its first 11 non-conference games last spring before St. Paul's rallied for a 10-9 victory. The Crusaders eventually won the MSA A championship, while the Admirals finished a disappointing 4-6 in the conference.
A more modest winning streak came to an end yesterday. Severn (2-1, 0-1) tied the game once, but never led. The Admirals did, however, force St. Paul's (2-0, 2-0) into a more deliberate offensive pace than Coach Mitch Whiteley prefers.
"They really slowed it down on us and we were a little flat," Whiteley said. "We're a run-and-gun sort of team, a transition team, not really a set, half-field team. They did a good job of taking us out of that.
"We could never seem to kick it into gear offensively. Defensively, the kids played a heck of a game."
The Crusaders shut down Severn senior attackman Jason Wade, holding him to a fourth-quarter goal that left his team behind, 7-5, with 5:33 remaining. Wade had scored 44 goals last season and had 10 entering yesterday's game.
Muendel netted his third goal of the day -- and of the season -- from 10 yards out with 3:04 left. St. Paul's couldn't convert on a man-advantage situation, and Severn came within a Keratzes save of forcing overtime.
"They [the Crusaders] were always one, and most of the time, two goals up, and we seemed to be scratching and clawing just to stay in the game," White said.