No. 1 Calvert Hall's Ryan Brown, left, shoots as he is defended… (Photo for The Baltimore…)
One of the adjectives most used to describe the Calvert Hall lacrosse team at the start of the season was "talented."
The second one that always quickly followed was "young."
With one game left in the season, the more appropriate words are "polished" and "primed."
The No. 1 Cardinals continued their season-long roll Tuesday, comfortably taking out defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion and No. 3 St. Paul's in the league tournament semifinals, 11-4, at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
In improving to 17-1 and moving within one win of making the demanding MIAA A Conference its very own, the Cardinals got a five-goal performance from junior attackman Ryan Brown; stellar faceoff work from sophomore midfielder Stephen Kelly; and a collectively dominating performance in methodically building a 6-1 advantage early in the second quarter that easily proved more than enough.
Parity this season?
The Cardinals are one more fine performance away from the program's sixth league title, with their chance coming on Friday against the winner of Tuesday night's Boys' Latin-Gilman game at 8 p.m. at Unitas Stadium.
"I was a little anxious with our kids because we're pretty young, but I thought they responded well and we just stayed focused and put it all together. It was a good day," said Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly, whose lineup is dominated by juniors and sophomores. "It was a really good performance. I think we've had some good performances, but if you told me it would be 11-4 I would not have said 'yes, that is what the score would be.'"
All season, the Cardinals' balanced attack has had different players step up at different times. When the Crusaders (13-8) put most of their attention on junior Patrick Kelly, Brown made sure to take advantage of the open space.
He scored three straight goals in the final 5:31 of the first quarter to provide a 4-1 lead. And with Stephen Kelly dominating on draws and the Cardinals' defense holding up fine against the Crusaders' potent attack, the lead steadily grew. St. Paul's never got closer than four goals the rest of the way.
"St. Paul's is a great team. We were just able to take advantage of the open looks all around," said Brown. "They really seemed to slide to Patrick Kelly early, which opened it up a lot, so I was able to finish the looks that he was able to give. Overall, we just played a really good game."
St. Pauls' coach Rick Brocato, whose Crusaders couldn't build off their quarterfinal win at St. Mary's, said the Cardinals were responsible for that.
"They're one terrific team," he said. "They did what they do best — they win faceoffs, the hustle all over the field and they beat you in some transition. They really have the sticks and the kids and I thought defensively they really did a [heck of a] job against our guys. They're team is priming right now."
Bryan Kelly is planning on three sleepless nights until Friday's championship game arrives, but he'll gladly take them.
"We're thankful. This is a great opportunity for us. It's hard to get there and hopefully we can continue to build off what we've done this year," he said. "What I like about our team right now is we're a team."
MIAA A Conference semifinals
(at Towson University)
1 Calvert Hall 11, 3 St. Paul's 4
Goals: SP – Parks, Galvin, Michel 2;
CH – J. Kelly, R. Brown 6, Diehl, P. Kelly, C. Brown, Bolewicki.
Assists: SP -- Maddux;
CH – Black 2, P. Kelly 3, J. Kelly, Diehl.
Saves: SP – Waldt 6; CH – Rasinski 11, Pecunes 1.
Half: CH, 6-2.