St. Paul's uses defense to control St. Mary's

15 saves, faceoff advantage power No. 4 Crusaders, 9-7

March 26, 2000|By Jake Schaller | Jake Schaller,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It was not the prettiest effort, but fourth-ranked St. Paul's did enough to upend No. 3 St. Mary's, 9-7, yesterday in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.

The Crusaders relied on solid defense against the Saints' offensive standouts, senior goalkeeper Paul Spellman's 15 saves and a 14-4 advantage in faceoffs.

"We knew going in that a lot of the game would revolve around one-on-one defense," Spellman said. "We have the best defense in the league and I think we showed that today."

The Crusaders (1-1) also showed why they might have the finest faceoff unit in the league. By winning 14 of 18 draws, midfielders Jack deVilliers, Scott Boyle and Ethan Haire more than made up for St. Paul's sometimes sloppy ball movement. "We play a run-and-gun game, so we tend to make a few turnovers," said senior attack Conor Ford, who led the Crusaders with two goals and three assists. "But if we keep getting the ball, we have more chances to put it in the net. Fourteen of 18 is pretty good. That will get it done any time."

St. Mary's (1-1) went up 3-1 early, but the Crusaders' Brendan Gill scored off a nifty deVilliers assist with 19 seconds left in the first period to spark a 6-0 run. The Saints went scoreless for 26: 46, during which the Crusaders built a lead they did not relinquish. Five players -- Gill, Haire, Reid Bouchelle, Grant Halford and Ben Cusson -- scored during the decisive run, but the common thread on three of the goals were precise feeds from Ford.

Although he is capable of playing a physical game, evidenced by a close-range score and a one-minute unnecessary roughness penalty, Ford's soft touch and passing skills are equally impressive. "People think of him as just a shooter," St. Paul's coach Mitch Whiteley said. "But he sees the field very well and controls a lot of what we do." The Saints finally ended their scoring drought and closed to 7-4 when Matt White scored with 1: 18 left in the third period. But St. Paul's, which squandered a lead in its season-opening loss to top-ranked Gilman, answered quickly with two goals to start the fourth period.

St. Mary's, which came from behind to defeat Loyola in its opener, scored three goals in the final 7: 28 to pull within 9-7, but ran out of time. "We didn't face off well, we didn't check up particularly well and we didn't play smart," Jim Moorhead said. "And when a team doesn't play smart, it's my fault. I'll take the blame."

Senior Drew Pfarr led the Saints with three goals.

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