With a seven-goal lead against Park and halftime approaching, it seemed that 13th-ranked Archbishop Curley was on its way to another easy Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference lacrosse victory yesterday.
"We thought we were fine at that point, but things started to unravel for us," said senior attackman Kenny Whittaker, the Friars' top scorer with 45 goals and 16 assists. "[Thursday] in practice, Coach [Joe LaTona] told us they were a second-half team and that they wouldn't give up no matter what and that we had to keep playing. But we obviously didn't."
The Friars escaped with a 10-7 victory, but only after surviving a spirited third-quarter rally by the Bruins.
Whittaker (four goals), Doug Herdigan (two goals, one assist) and Joe Browning (two assists) led Curley (10-1 overall, 7-0 league).
Down 7-0, Joe Press (two goals, one assist), Colin Smith (two, one) and Jamie Matz (one, one) led a comeback by the Bruins (4-2, 3-2), who scored seven of the next nine goals and were within 9-7 with 1:52 remaining.
"This was a tale of two halves," said LaTona, whose Friars were penalized four times and outscored 4-1 in the third quarter, during which Park goalie Max Struever made five of his 12 saves. "When we do what we do well - play pressure defense, run our offense - not many teams can stop us. But we made things interesting when they didn't have to be."
The Friars are hoping to enjoy their best season since 1986, when their program won the last of their five titles in the now-defunct Maryland Scholastic Association. Curley was a semifinalist in 1998, 2005 and last year, when its season ended with a 7-6 loss to Park at home after leading for almost all of the game.
"That was a heartbreaker last year, and we were so pumped up," Herdigan said. "Today, we didn't play to our potential, but I'm sure if we get our offense and defense down, we can't be stopped."
Ray Wodarski had 12 saves for the Friars, whose victories include a win over Dulaney, last year's Class 4A-3A state runner-up.
"They've been dominant in the B Conference," said Smith, whose Bruins lead the conference's Black Division, while the Friars lead the Red Division. "But I think we came away knowing that we can play with them and any other team in this league."