Top-ranked Gilman never had any doubts about its firepower on offense. With a potent lineup that includes one returning All-Metro midfielder and their top four attackmen from last season, the Greyhounds enter each contest confident that they will score goals.
But yesterday against No. 2 St. Paul's, it was the Greyhounds' defense that stepped to the forefront.
After disarming the host Crusaders in the first half, visiting Gilman withstood a late rally and held on for a 10-8 win in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference Division I game.
FOR THE RECORD - The spelling of St. Paul's coach Mitch Whiteley's name has been corrected for the database. See microfilm for original story.
By early in the third quarter, the Greyhounds had built a 7-3 lead. The defense then clamped down, allowing only four shots in the next 13:10 en route to the team's first win over St. Paul's since 1991.
"This is the one we've been waiting for," said Greyhounds midfielder James McIntyre, who was an eighth-grader when the team last beat St. Paul's. "I thought we played really well on defense. Our offense will get the job done pretty much, but we know that when our defense plays as well as it can play we can't be beat."
It was on offense, however, where the junior did his best work.
McIntyre scored three goals, the last of which gave the Greyhounds (3-0 overall, 2-0 in the league) a 10-5 lead with 4:43 to play, to go along with two each by attackmen Mike Allen and Mark Cornes.
St. Paul's had cut the lead to 7-5 before Gilman scored three straight goals and turned what was supposed to be the early-season game of the year into a rout.
"I think our team deserved to win," said Gilman coach John Tucker, whose team lost to St. Paul's in overtime last season. "I think we wanted it more. It's always a big win when you beat St. Paul's."
But a late flurry nearly helped the Crusaders (4-2, 1-1) steal a victory.
Trailing 10-5, St. Paul's got three straight goals from attackman Tucker Radebaugh to cut the lead to 10-8 with 1:04 left. But the Crusaders -- who fired 11 shots in the final 5:49 -- could get no closer.
"I think our kids showed a lot of heart staying close like they did," said St. Paul's coach Mitch Whiteley. "[Gilman] really didn't do anything different. They just executed well.
"We knew we didn't want to get into a running game with them, and we did that a little bit."
Gilman compounded the situation by making the most of its shots early in the game. Despite getting outshot 8-6 in the first 11:18, the Greyhounds took a 3-1 lead on goals by Lorne Smith, Chase Martin and Cornes.
The Crusaders, however, battled back to tie the score at 3 when Jamie Pollock scored off a pass from John Solter with 4:38 left in the half.
From there, however, it was all Gilman, as the Greyhounds reeled off four unanswered goals to take control.
For Allan, it was the Greyhounds' ability to hold off the Crusaders late in the game that was most rewarding.
"They gave us a little scare," said Allan, "but as a team we #F picked up the intensity. We stepped it up a bit, because we knew we had to. This was just a big stepping stone for us."
For St. Paul's, however, losing the game may be a good omen. The last time the Crusaders lost to Gilman, they bounced back to win the conference championship.