After a disappointing performance in an upset loss to McDonogh last week, the St. Paul's boys lacrosse team was looking forward to getting a chance to respond with another stern test against No. 2 St. Mary's on Tuesday.
The No. 4 Crusaders' answer was resounding.
Making big plays at both ends during all the critical moments early made it easy in the end for St. Paul's, which came away with a convincing 14-4 win over the visiting Saints.
Jay Carlson scored three goals and added an assist, and Taylor Michel and Spencer Parks both finished with two goals and an assist, while goalie Gunner Waldt finished with 11 saves in the win. St. Paul's improves to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, while St. Mary's (6-2) falls to 2-1 in league play.
"It was a team effort, something we really stressed going into the game," St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato said. "I challenged them, and they responded. And I'm going to keep challenging them and they're going to have to keep stepping up because it's a group that can really do a lot of good things when they're focused and pulling the oars in the same direction. It was a great team effort."
The Crusaders had an answer for every St. Mary's push, taking a 4-1 lead with three straight goals to close out the first quarter and then effectively maintaining the advantage throughout.
The Saints pulled within two goals twice in the second quarter, but goals by Andrew Barton and Patrick Powderly helped restore order for the Crusaders, which led to a 7-3 halftime lead.
After the Saints closed to 7-4 in the opening minute of the third quarter on a goal from John Hogan, Carlson scored on a nifty wraparound goal diving in front before Waldt protected the 8-4 lead by making a reaction save on Ryland De Pol's point-blank shot on the right side of the cage. The Crusaders blanked the Saints for 23 minutes of the game in coming away with the stunningly comfortable win.
"When we come out ready to play, we get so much momentum going and get fired up, it's hard to stop us," Michel said. "Against McDonogh, we didn't have that - we came out flat. I think that was the major difference today - we came out fired up and ready to go."
No. 7 Archbishop Spalding 8, No. 3 McDonogh 5: Brian Cooper had three goals and an assist as the visiting Cavaliers (6-4) upset the Eagles (8-2).
No. 1 Boys' Latin 19, No. 12 Severn 4: Wells Stanwick and Patrick Foster combined for 13 points as the visiting Lakers (7-1) routed the Admirals (4-7).
No. 5 Calvert Hall 13, Mount St. Joseph 2: Tommy Holland and Tony Rossi had three goals apiece for the host Cardinals (6-1), who took a 10-1 lead at the half and never trailed.
No. 11 Broadneck 8, Chesapeake-AA 2: James Mullis scored four goals and the host Bruins (3-1) outscored the Cougars 4-0 in the fourth quarter.
No. 1 C. Milton Wright 10, Arundel 1: Bobby Ruse pitched five scoreless innings and struck out eight as the top-ranked Mustangs (5-0) routed the Wildcats (0-2). Brad Markey went 3-for-3 and finished a homer shy of the cycle.
Northern-Calvert 11, No. 2 Arundel 0: Right-hander Lindsey Schmeiser held the Wildcats (1-1) to two hits in the shutout. The Patriots improved to 6-0. Arundel was without starting pitcher Kayla Martinez.
No. 12 Mount de Sales 14, Winfield (West Virginia) 1: Holly Whitehead struck out seven and added a double as the Sailors (4-3) continued pool play in the Grand Strand Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.