Coach Keith Hinderer Sr. called him "one of the best players I've ever coached." Teammate Owen Jordan simply called him "a superstar."
Attackman Drew Westervelt was huge in yesterday's come-from-behind 8-7 victory by John Carroll over host Park in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference game. He scored five times and assisted on another goal as the Patriots defeated last year's league runner-up by the same score for the second time in five days, although the earlier game went to overtime.
The victory, John Carroll's fifth straight since an 8-7 overtime loss to defending champion Archbishop Spalding, earned the Patriots (12-1, 11-1) the top seed heading into the playoff semifinals on May 20.
With the Patriots down 7-5 with 6:48 to play, Westervelt set up a goal by Bret Leppert (one goal, one assist). Seven seconds later, Westervelt tied the score himself, converting a feed from faceoff midfielder Dave Frank. And with 5:18 to play, the UMBC-bound senior scored the game-winner off an assist from Kyle Leppert (two assists).
The rest was up to the Patriots' defense of Brad Barkowiak, Brian Tomcho and Brendan Ireton, behind whom keeper Brian Vierheller made four of his 13 saves in the game's closing moments. Park's Ryan Sargiannis had a goal and an assist.
"They had No. 25 [Park defender Andrew Eifler], who is a great player. He shuts you off, and they shut me off totally on man-down, so I couldn't touch the ball," said Westervelt, a right-hander who also shoots well left-handed. "I had to work extra hard today, but we lost twice to them in overtime last year, so we came here with something to prove."
Ross Nochumowitz (one goal, three assists), Josh Lauren (three goals) and Jon Schneider (two, one) led Park (10-3, 9-3), which will enter the playoffs as the third seed and have to play its semifinal at Spalding.
Park jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but John Carroll battled back to tie the game at 4-4 for halftime. Schneider's unassisted goal, and another by Lauren, gave Park a 6-4 lead entering the fourth period.
A goal by Keith Hinderer Jr. brought John Carroll within 6-5, but Schneider intercepted a clear and fed Nochumowitz on the doorstep to give Park a 7-5 lead with 10:40 to play.
"Eleven seniors on this team were in last year's championship game, where we lost by a goal. We're capable of playing better, but we backed away in the end today," said Lauren. "Right now, they just have more of a sense of urgency than we do. And they have Westervelt, who is a great player."
In Monday's overtime win over Park, Westervelt fed Jordan for the game-winner and finished with two each in goals and assists. Westervelt had four goals and two assists in an earlier, 9-7 win over Spalding.
Though the Patriots lost their subsequent rematch with Spalding, it was Westervelt who sent the contest into overtime by tying it with his second goal of the game.
With rain in the way a second straight day, the Anne Arundel softball championship game between No. 1 North County and No. 3 Chesapeake was canceled yesterday, and the two teams were declared co-champions.