St. Paul's upends Roland Park

Down by 2, Gators rally for 5-4 win to clinch first league championship

IAAM A Conference lacrosse

High Schools


May 10, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

With a sudden three-goal surge midway through the second half giving support to a stellar day on defense, the No. 1 St. Paul's girls lacrosse team got past two barriers yesterday in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game.

The Gators overcame a challenge from a determined Roland Park team, and with their 5-4 win, they came away with their first league championship.

Starting the season ranked 14th in the metro area, St. Paul's (16-1-1) earned its keep at the top of the poll with 15 straight wins to close out the season - 10 coming against ranked opponents in the area's most demanding league.

"In the beginning of the year, nobody really expected much from us so we thrived on being the underdog," said junior midfielder Megan Del Monte, whose second goal yesterday with 7:40 left provided the winning margin. "And then, all of a sudden, we were the top dog, and it was like `OK, we just have to go out there and play our game' because we were confident we were the best in the league. So it was a matter of proving it."

Getting a nine-save performance from goalie Lydia Sanza and solid play on defense, the attack finally did its damage to come back from a 4-2 deficit.

Shortly after the No. 12 Reds (8-7-2) had taken the two-goal lead, Del Monte scored from the right side with 10:20 to play.

Senior attacker Annie Wagner bounced a free-position chance by Reds senior goalie Ellen Cameron, also stellar with 11 saves, for her third goal of the game to tie the score at 4 with 9:20 left.

Del Monte came back with the game-winner less than two minutes later, working her way from behind the cage, shaking a defender and then finding herself all alone with Cameron before placing a low shot to claim the lead for good.

After scoring just two goals in the first 35 minutes, the Gators couldn't have found a better time for three goals in three minutes.

"I think our team reacted to a little enthusiasm," said Wagner. "If you can get one goal, that pumps you up and our team responds to that, so I think that's what did it. Once we get on a roll, it's hard to stop us."

From there, the Gators took off a good chunk of the remaining minutes before the Reds pressed in the final minute.

Sophomore attacker Cate Goytisolo's free-position shot hit off the inside of the right post with 38 seconds left, Brittany Kalkstein's chance went wide and Shannon Burke's shot hit Sanza's foot before time ran out.

After an up-and-down regular season, the Reds did well to pull it together late, coming back against St. Mary's and Severn before providing the Gators with the worthy test.

"I think our seniors really wanted this and they showed the leadership when we needed it most," said junior midfielder Shannon Burke. "We knew each possession was going to count today and did a pretty good job for the most part.

"We broke down for just a little bit and St. Paul's is very good at picking it up when they need to and coming back. They proved that today."

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