With the game tied in the late stages of yesterday afternoon's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship game, there was no doubt who No. 12 Spalding would look to for guidance: senior midfielder Kyle Dixon.
With 99 seconds remaining, Dixon beat a Park defender at the side of the cage, circled to the front and fired in a high shot from point-blank range for the game-winning goal to give the Cavaliers a 10-9 victory yesterday at Johns Hopkins University's Homewood Field.
Dixon also won the ensuing faceoff and drained 48 seconds off the clock. Park (15-3) regained possession with 51 seconds to play but lost it four seconds later for having too many men on the field. The Cavaliers (19-5) played keep-away over the last 47 seconds to secure their third straight conference title.
"I just had to step it up for my team," said Dixon, who is headed to the University of Virginia. "We were down, not playing well. I just had to take over the game. ... I just knew I had to get that faceoff out, take it down into the box and hold it for the rest of the game."
After scoring the first goal, Park never led. But the Bruins, which had defeated Spalding by 10-8 before losing, 20-5, in the regular season, continued to fight back. Park erased a four-goal, second-quarter deficit, and then a 9-7 deficit in the fourth quarter. Park junior Josh Lauren scored two of his three goals with 10:43 and 7:21 remaining to tie the game at 9.
Both goaltenders - Spalding freshman Matt Antonelli (13 saves) and Park junior Spencer Hickok (12 saves) - made several saves in the fourth quarter to keep the game tied. But Dixon, who had three goals and two assists on Spalding's final five scores, would not be denied in the end.
"The boy is a class act," Spalding coach Walt Blahut said. "We rely on him so much to get the job done for us. And when the going gets tough, we just say, `Kyle, take over.' "
With their recent success, the Cavaliers now must contemplate a promotion to the A Conference. They are under no obligation to move up, but the last time a B Conference team won three straight titles (Friends in 1997, '98 and '99), it played in the A Conference the next season.
"We're talking about it," Blahut said. "We have to make sure it's the best thing for the program and the school."
Goals: S-Dixon 5, Thomas 2, Marsh, Donovan, Platt; P-Lauren 3, Zetzer 2, Flamholz, Trout, Gaber, Schneider. Assists: S-Dixon 3, Platt 2, Latonick 2, Cassilly; P-Nochumowitz 3, Gaber, Flamholz. Saves: S-Antonelli 13; P- 12. Halftime: S, 5-3.