The Arundel Wildcats boys lacrosse team came out fast yesterday and spent the rest of the afternoon at River Hill capably protecting their lead, responding to every push the No. 15-ranked Hawks provided.
Most of the answers came from Chase Gompers' creativity on offense and Dave Rennie's timely saves in the cage.
And after the Wildcats ran off the last two minutes of regulation, mostly behind the River Hill cage, they left with a satisfying 10-8, season-opening win that answered many questions for veteran coach Clint Gosnell.
Despite losing five key components to graduation from last year's 16-3 team, the Wildcats showed they had the resources to fill those voids.
The best example came from Rennie, who had all his angles covered when needed, finishing with 15 saves -- many early and even more late.
"Dave was just awesome," said Gosnell. "Those guys are like a scoring machine and Dave came up big early and often."
Rennie, who replaced second-team All-County goalie Matt Milloy, came up with two of his saves in the opening minutes before the Wildcats settled in.
When they did, they built a 5-1 lead behind Gompers (four goals, two assists) and Jay King.
The Hawks, who got four goals from Jon Clark and a two-goal, four-assist effort from Scott Kenworthy, closed within one goal twice, but Gompers and company never let it get any closer.
The Wildcats led 6-5 at the start of the third quarter when Gompers found himself isolated along the left side, slipping past a defender to cut across and score.
When it was 9-8 in the fourth quarter, Gompers found Kevin Reinecke (two goals) with 7: 52 left to close out the scoring.
"We worked the ball around real well and there were some times when I decided to do it myself -- it was pretty simple," said Gompers, a junior midfielder. "I was looking to get by the defender and shoot. If I didn't have a shot, I'd look for the assist."
Strong play from Gompers is something Gosnell expects.
"He darts around and darts around and creates all kinds of havoc for a defense," said Gosnell. "We were scrappy on ground balls and didn't let them use their speed. Our settled offense really came through."
The Hawks, returning eight seniors from last season's 13-5 team, continued to have their problems against Arundel.
"This is the fourth time we've played them and the fourth time we've lost, but this was the best game we've played. We just didn't finish as well as we should have," said River Hill coach Jay Bond.