With a few big Friday and Saturday still on the docket, the unofficial first full week of high school lacrosse is nearly in the books. Fans on both sides of the country have been treated to intriguing results, upsets and high level early season play. Today’s piece takes a closer look at huge victories by No. 1 Gonzaga (D.C.) and Calvert Hall (Md.) over ranked opponents, as well as a few other links from the week.
Upcoming pivotal showdowns this weekend were highlighted in Monday’s weekly preview and predictions piece and include St. Mary’s-Landon, St. Ignatius Prep-Torrey Pines, Hill Academy-St. Mary’s and Haverford-St. Paul’s, among others.
Changes in the Wednesday’s Top 25 rankings were minimal, as Boys’ Latin (Md.) dropped six spots to No. 14 after their home loss to Gonzaga. For an in-depth look at each team in the Top 10, check out the preseason rankings. Regional coverage will begin this week.
More links from the week:
Game story from a 14-11 St. Paul’s (Md.) win over Paul VI (Va.)
Inside Lacrosse’s highlights of Haverford and McDonogh’s OT game
MIAA Championships head to Homewood Field for the first time since 2006
Calvert Hall comes back on No. 12 Malvern Prep, winning 11-10 in OT
My knock on the Cardinals – or the “Baby Birds”, as I called them in this week’s preview piece – was that they were perhaps too young and inexperienced to compete with the big boys.
On Thursday night, freshman Jacob Kelly took on a great responsibility usually reserved for upperclassmen. Coming out of the restart, senior Timmy Kelly tossed it over to his younger cousin, who took a few steps to his left and unleashed a high shot past Friar goalie Sam Stroud to send the game to overtime with 4.9 seconds left in regulation.
“It’s funny because right before that, we were all huddled up and Timmy said ‘It’s coming to you’ and I was just ‘Oh, God, here we go,” said the North Carolina commit playing in his first ever home game at Calvert Hall. “In that situation, you just have to take whatever comes to you and do what you can do. It helped having Timmy out there but I was definitely nervous, just stuck it and finally finished one.”
In overtime, it was Timmy calling his own number with under a minute left, coming around from X, shaking off checks from Malvern’s D then sending home a jump shot from eight yards to end a phenomenal game and miraculous comeback by the Cardinals.
Down 7-3 at the half, there was certainly a lot for Bryan Kelly’s team to overcome.
They were playing without top senior face-off man Ryan Powers (York), who went down during one of the game’s first draws and may have broken a bone. The Cardinals won just 5 of 25 against Malvern Prep’s UNC-bound Charles Kelly but turned the tide a little bit in the second half when they inserted longpole PJ Peters, a sophomore who played on the fresh-soph team last year and had “never taken a face-off in his life”, according to the coaching staff.
Played under the lights and in front of a passionate early season crowd, the game was full of momentum swings. CHC’s offense didn’t have many quality possession in the first half and struggled to hit the net, however they would came out hot out of halftime. With two goals from sophomore Omari DiBerry (Ohio State) and one each from Timmy Kelly and Jason Brown (Army), the Cardinals tallied four times in the third quarter’s first three minutes to tie things at 7-7. Malvern’s promising freshman attackman Scottie White (Ohio State) responded and put in a pair of unassisted goals to take back the momentum and put the Friars up two heading into the fourth quarter.
A huge storyline was the game-changing play of MP goalie Sam Stroud, who had 10 second half saves and then a pair in overtime. Many of his saves to rob CHC were spectacular, including a flurry late in the game when he had a trio of eye-popping saves in a single Cardinal possession when the Friars had the 10-9 lead, though Jason Brown was able to bat one in past at the 2:50 mark to ultimately set up the dramatic comeback and clutch finish by one of their youthful standouts.
A remarkable display from both sides, it was still an excellent season-opening effort from John McEvoy’s program, a team that had heavy graduations losses from last year’s 24-0 but appears to have reloaded once again. Penn-bound attackman and No. 17 junior Adam Goldner paced the Friars with two goals and three assists, while White, Billy Coyle, Drew Schantz and Mike Fay all contributed two points each.
For Calvert Hall, Timmy Kelly rebounded from a tough first half shooting the ball to finish with two goals and four assists. Brown and the younger Kelly accounted for three points apiece, DeBerry and Connor Pearce combined for four points with Luke Ciccarone scoring a goal as well. Defensively, Joe McSorley put together 10 stops behind entirely new set of personnel on D that was led by fellow talented uncommitted junior George Rittenhouse.
“Win or lose in this game, we would benefit from it: if we lost in OT then we’d learn a lot and benefit from it, you win in OT and you learn a lot and benefit from it,” said an elated Coach Bryan Kelly after the game. “It’s not where you are today, it’s where you’re gonna be.”
Gonzaga gives Boys’ Latin their first regular season loss since 2012
Whether or not you believe that the nation’s preseason No. 1 was playing the underdog role, it was only necessary. After all, Boys’ Latin (Md.) had dismantled the Purple Eagles by a combined 30-6 over the last two seasons. If that’s not reason for motivation, what is?
For head coach Casey O’Neill, who has led the D.C. school to powerhouse status, there was no denying that this was even just a small factor in Gonzaga’s 13-6 road romp over the defending national champions.
“I’m not gonna lie – the goal differential the last few years was definitely in the back of our minds,” O’Neill said. “You always want to tell the kids it’s just one game and that you’re as good as your last game and not to look back. We sort of wanted to use it as a motivator and try to play the role of an underdog against one of the best programs in the country at their field and in wet conditions.”
Using that aforementioned revenge factor combined with execution, chemistry and coaching, Gonzaga rolled to a complete effort that acts as a a solid first stepping stone during a season that includes five more showdowns against current Top 25 teams.
On Tuesday, the Eagles played the Lakers to a 1-1 first quarter before exploding in the second stanza. Star attackman Timmy Monahan found the net just seven seconds in thanks to face-off middie Nick McEvoy’s assist, triggering a run of offense that consisted of goals from Monahan, freshman attackman Jack Myers and middies Ridge Slater (Cornell) and Avery Myers (2g – Michigan). The attack put on a riding clinic, the defense won their matchups with relative ease and Gonzaga’s midfielders came in unrelenting waves to make life difficult for the Lakers. By that point, the 7-2 halftime deficit was far too big to overcome, especially with junior Dartmouth-bound goalie George Christopher stopping everything in sight.
The Lakers switched goalies at half (as they plan to do going forward) to returning starter Jack Pezzulla, though the Purple Eagles scored right off the face-off and continued to roll. Part of an outstanding five-man rotation at attack, Brown-bound junior Luke McCaleb buried the third quarter’s first two goals and would end with a hat trick. Gonzaga had an 11-3 cushion at one point, continuing to show their prowess on both sides of the ball despite playing without two senior starters in defenseman Michael Borda (Michigan) and Liam Fitzpatrick (St. Joseph’s), though both are expected to return from injury soon.
A key win like that adds confidence, says senior captain Monahan, who admitted that he was slightly nervous about how the squad would perform considering they’d only had four outdoor practices, playing mostly in the gym with tennis balls.
“Coach O’Neill had a lot of confidence in us, he probably said a million times that day that we’re going to win as long as we played our game,” Monahan said on Thursday night. “The cohesion and experience we have gives us a high comfort level and I feel like half the battle is the mentality we had going into the season – we trust each other and have some of the best coaching you could ask for.”
Monahan credited assistant Jesse Miller, a former coach at Georgetown and Tufts, for getting on the attack in practice about riding hard nonstop. Gonzaga frustrated the Lakers in the riding game, forcing turnovers left and right and creating offense. 10 different players registered a point, ultimately helped by Christopher’s poise with 12 saves as well as McEvoy’s slick work at the face-off X.
The top-ranked Eagles have a bout on Saturday with St. Albans (D.C.), the only team to defeat IAC champion Georgetown Prep last year. They won’t be able to look too far ahead to Wednesday, when Gonzaga welcomes No. 8 Hill Academy (Ont.) to town, playing Brodie Merrill’s Pride at his alma mater with a 3pm face-off scheduled. The Canucks pulled out a tough 12-10 win in their matchup last year.
For full video and commentary of Gonzaga-BL, check out Kudda.com.