Gilman's crusade: End the streak Greyhounds ready for No. 1 St. Paul's

April 27, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

For nearly three years, the St. Paul's boys lacrosse team has defied the odds, twice going unbeaten in possibly the nation's most competitive league -- the Maryland Scholastic Association's Armstrong A Conference.

A pattern of clutch victories has led top-ranked St. Paul's to 30 straight wins and two consecutive one-goal triumphs in MSA A title games.

This year's Crusaders have overcome deficits against No. 2 Gilman, No. 10 Calvert Hall, No. 3 Boys' Latin and No. 4 Loyola.

They have defied the elements, like in a season-opening, 8-7, overtime mud bath against Gilman under conditions known to foil fast-breaking, skill-oriented teams like St. Paul's. And they have won on tired legs, as in last Tuesday's 8-6, come-from-behind win over Calvert Hall -- just one day after a 6-5 overtime win against Boys' Latin.

Gilman gets another shot to end the streak today at home.

"St. Paul's has won a lot of one-goal games, and that's good coaching, not luck, especially in a conference like this," said coach John Tucker, whose Greyhounds (7-1 overall, 6-1 in Division I) trail the Crusaders (9-0, 7-0) for the Division I title and a top playoff seed.

St. Paul's high-powered attack features All-Metro senior Michael Watson (23 goals, 18 assists). It also has attackmen Tucker Radebaugh (15 goals, 26 assists) and Jamie Pollock (17, two) along with midfielders John Solter (seven, 10), Ben Strutt (10, six) and Billy Ruhl (seven, five).

Watson's 134 career goals and 55 assists combined are 45 points shy of the school record (234) set by Tim Whiteley, The Sun's 1992 All-Metro Player of the Year, who now plays for the University of Virginia.

When the offense has sputtered, however, the defense of Pat Doyle, Mac MacCulloch, Ryan Grimes and junior goalie Sean Keenan has bailed out the Crusaders.

Gilman's Tucker emphasizes a balanced attack.

"If you look at the box scores for their games," said St. Paul's coach Mitch Whiteley, "Gilman always has about 10 different guys pitching in to score."

Junior attackman Mike Allan (11 goals, 12 assists) is a non-starter whom Tucker likens to a sixth man in basketball. Allan had five goals in the 10-7 win Friday at No. 5 St. Mary's.

Gilman's attack includes sophomore Lorne Smith (13, eight) and freshman Chase Martin (five, eight). Second-team All-Metro Mark Cornes (12, five) heads a midfield that includes seniors Bryan Smith (eight, seven) and Peter McGill (six, three) and junior Stuart Kesmodel (three, four).

"We don't have the marquee names like Watson, [Loyola's Bill] Evans or [Calvert Hall's Pete] Hilgartener," said Tucker. "We maintain a team concept for success."

In their first meeting a year ago -- St. Paul's won, 18-9 -- Watson scored nine goals and added two assists. Although Gilman contained Watson better in last year's second meeting, it lost, 10-9.

Watson also did the damage in this year's rain-drenched contest, shaking the coverage of speedy Greyhounds' defender Neal Granick long enough to score the winning goal just 57 seconds into the second overtime.

In today's game, Granick, fellow defender David Powell and keeper Corey Popham hope to close the door on Watson.

"Watson's a player who, as an opposing coach, you just have to pay special attention to. But we can't devote all of our efforts toward him," said Tucker. "They've got a great transition and they're a team that can hurt you in a lot of ways."

Another threat is Radebaugh, a sophomore Loyola transfer who may some day surpass both Watson and Tim Whiteley in the record books.

"Tim is a left-handed feeder, so we knew he'd be hard to replace. But Tucker has stepped right in there and filled the void," said Whiteley, Tim's father. "Watson and Strutt have been around and they hate losing. Nothing we've done surprises me."

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