No. 1 Cardinals keep rolling in MIAA A lacrosse; Sawyer and Sunderland combine for 6 goals (VIDEO HERE!)

Calvert Hall’s Truitt Sunderland (left) tries to get around St. Mary’s defender Cal Hadley during Tuesday’s MIAA A Conference lacrosse match. Sunderland, a freshman, had a hat trick as the top-ranked and two-time defending league champ Cardinals remained perfect in league play with a 13-9 decision at Russo Stadium in Towson.

by Derek Toney

Defense was a question mark heading into the 2019 season for Calvert Hall lacrosse. The unit appears to be progressing and that could be a huge problem for the rest of the MIAA A Conference.

The top-ranked Cardinals defeated No. 2 St. Mary’s, 13-9, in a MIAA A contest at Russo Stadium in Towson. Senior attack/midfielder Jack Sawyer recorded three goals and an assist and Truitt Sunderland finished with a hat trick.

The two-time reigning champs controlled the Saints’ offense between the second and three quarters to remain unbeaten in the nation’s toughest league. The Cardinals, who’re tied for first with No. 3 Gilman School (3-0), have won 24 of 25 in MIAA A play since the start of 2017.

Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly tipped his hat to his defense which held the opposition below double-digit goals for the 8th time in 10 starts this spring.

“We recovered well for the most part, we had a couple of communication breakdowns. I thought our off-ball play was good as well,” said Kelly. “Overall, I thought our defense was better than our offense today.”

Kelly commended the efforts of senior longstick Jake Snyder, and short sticks Aidan Fritz, Dan Reilly, Kai Susaki and Harrison Ewing. Junior goalie Jackson Marshall finished with seven saves.

St. Mary’s made a late push, scoring four straight goals to pull to 11-9 with 3 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in regulation. Sawyer put the Cardinals in clear with two tallies in less than 10 seconds late in the game.

Sawyer, who will play for the University of Maryland next spring, knows Calvert Hall has to play close to an A-game every Tuesday and Friday in the MIAA A.

“We got to come out every single time like it’s a championship game because we know we’re getting everybody’s best every single game and everybody wants to beat us,” Sawyer said. “So I think we just have to keep playing hard, keep improving and kind of just play like how we’ve been playing and I think we’ll be very successful this year.”

The Cardinals’ offensive depth was again on display Tuesday. Junior attack Daniel Kelly and Grant Mitchell each posted two goals and two assists, and junior midfielder Cole Herbert handed out three assists.

Kelly said the offense is still a work in progress.

“When we share the ball and play with pace, we’re pretty good,” said Kelly. “It’s nice having two midfields.”

Trailing 4-2 after the opening quarter, Calvert Hall got rolling with an extra-man opportunity to start the second. The Cardinals converted twice to pull even, then later added four straight tallied to close the first half with a 9-5 advantage.

Connor Mitchell capped a 7-1 surge, forcing a groundball at midfield and saving the ball. Sawyer finished a pass from Daniel Kelly in transition.

“In the first quarter, we were slow to start,” said Sawyer. “Coach [Bryan] Kelly told us to start moving the ball – ball movement and player movement — like we’ve been doing all year and I think after we heard that message and started putting that on the field we were playing pretty well.”

“We challenged them…we were little heavy,” said Kelly. “We changed things a little bit and started shutting guys off. We got away from it a little bit in the third and fourth quarter. We got to keep playing.”

The Cardinals were in full command, 11-5, midway through the third after scores from Sunderland and Daniel Kelly. But the Saints, who put together impressive surges in victories last week over then-No. 2 St. Paul’s School and then-No. 4 Loyola Blakefield, made things interesting.

The Annapolis school trailed only 11-9 after Garrett Nielsen’s unassisted tally which featured an one-minute penalty on Calvert Hall. Nielsen’s shot in front of the goal missed, and the Saints lost the ball.

Though pleased with his team’s resilience, St. Mary’s coach Victor Lilly said a 6-goal deficit was “a hole to deep” to overcome, especially against Calvert Hall.

“When you come up and play a big program like this you have to play for 48 minutes all the way through. Every mistake you make Calvert Hall will try to capitalize on them and they’re pretty good at it,” said Lilly. “They’re very deep, very good athletes and they just keep coming at you in waves.”

The Saints look to rebound at Pascal Field Friday evening when co-leading Gilman School visits. Calvert Hall will have a bye Friday, returning to action Tuesday at Severn School.

“We have to come out each game playing hard,” said Sawyer. “We have to keep getting better.”

No. 1 Calvert Hall College 13, No. 2 St. Mary’s 9

Goals: St. Mary’s – Burlace 2, Nielsen 2, Ripley 2, Souza 2, Krampf; Calvert Hall – Sawyer 3, Sunderland 3, D. Kelly 2, G. Mitchell 2, Long, C. Mitchell, Webber

Assists: St. Mary’s – Krampf2, Nielsen, Souza; Calvert Hall – Herbert 3, G. Mitchell 2, D. Kelly 2, Cottone

Saves: St. Mary’s – Schmidt 4; Calvert Hall – Marshall

St. Mary 4 1 1 3 – 9

Calvert Hall 2 7 2 2 – 13