Seven-time defending Carroll County champ South Carroll let it be known how it felt about its early-season loss to Westminster with a 9-5 win over the Owls last night in Winfield.
The Cavaliers (3-2) took control with four straight goals in the third quarter to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead. After Westminster (3-5) got to within 6-5 with just over six minutes remaining in the game, the Cavaliers put the game out of reach with the final three goals.
After seeing their 15-game winning streak against the Owls come to an end with a 7-6 loss at Westminster, the Cavaliers responded to again take control of the county race in a bid for their eighth straight title. They improved to 3-1 in county play, and Westminster drops to 2-2.
"This was a really big win for us. Westminster has a very good team and you have to give [Owls coach] Jim Peters a lot of credit," said South Carroll first-year coach Jeff Alisauckas. "We really needed this one."
It was the Owls who dominated the majority of the first half to come away with a 3-2 halftime lead.
It was the South Carroll defense that kept the Cavs close and enabled them to take control in the pivotal third quarter.
Tom Luster scored 18 seconds into the third to tie the game at 3 and then the Cavaliers converted on two out of four man-advantage situations.
Dan Hughes, who finished with three goals and one assist, gave the Cavaliers a 5-4 lead after taking a feed from Adam Whittington with 7:23 left.
Raj Sureja gave the Cavaliers a two-goal lead when he took a pass from Greg Blair from behind the net and beat Westminster goalie Jon Gibson at the 5:10 mark of the third.
"It seemed like we played that entire second half a man down. That really hurt us," said Peters. "We seem to get some momentum and then find ourselves down a man again. That killed us."
After South Carroll's John Eaton scored off a feed from Hughes to make it 6-3, the Owls came back with a Mark Mariaca goal with 19 seconds left in the third to close to within 6-4.
Dave Baker scored his second goal of the game with 6:02 left in the game to get Westminster within one, but Hughes, Greg Blair and Brian Eybs all scored goals to help South Carroll pull away.