Boys’ Latin takes down No. 1 St. Mary’s, strengthens bid for MIAA A lacrosse playoff bye; Zappitello scores twice (VIDEO HERE!)

Hopper Zappitello (left) and Cardin Stoller helped Boys’ Latin lacrosse score another a big road victory Tuesday afternoon. Stoller stopped 12 shots in goal while Zappitello scored twice in a four-goal second quarter as the fifth-ranked Lakers defeated previously undefeated and No. 1 St. Mary’s at Pascal Field in Annapolis.

by Derek Toney

The last time Boys’ Latin School played in Annapolis, it hoisted the MIAA A Conference lacrosse championship plaque. In their return Tuesday, the Lakers put themselves in position for another trip to the state capital.

No. 5 Boys’ Latin defeated previously undefeated and top-ranked St. Mary’s, 7-4, at Pascal Field. Senior attack Hopper Zappitello scored two goals for the Lakers (10-3 overall, 6-2 MIAA A) and University of North Carolina-bound attack Dominic Pietramala added a goal and two assists.

The Baltimore City school put together a late second quarter spurt and its defense was poised against the Saints’ offense, equaling sole possession of second-place in the nation’s premier boys lacrosse league in the final full week of the regular season.

The top two teams in the standings at the end of regular season play next Tuesday will receive a bye into the semifinals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on May 17.

Tuesday at Pascal Field, a five-minute car ride down Rowe Boulevard to Navy’s stadium, Boys’ Latin ended the best start by a MIAA A team since the Lakers’ 18-0 mythical national championship run of 2014.

“We just approached it like every game, we tried to keep our emotions in check,” said Lakers coach Brian Farrell. “I thought our guys executed under pressure when we needed them to. I’m proud of them.”

“Everybody wants to beat the team that’s winning all the games,” said Boys’ Latin goalie Cardin Stoller. “We prepared really well, watched a lot of film…you see the result when you prepare well.”

Stoller, who will play for Rutgers next spring, showed why he’s arguably the area’s best netminder. He made 12 saves, including a stop that was quickly turned into a Jacob Pacheco’s unassisted goal, giving Boys’ Latin a 6-3 advantage with 10 minutes, 44 seconds left in regulation.

Despite absorbing 47 shots, BL’s defense held St. Mary’s (14-1, 7-1 MIAA A) to its lowest goal output of the spring.

“That was probably the first game we played a full four quarters,” said Stoller. “That’s been something we’ve been trying to get all year.”

“I thought our guys played good individual defense,” said Farrell. “We supported one another…we had to give them (St. Mary’s) some shots and Cardin again stood on his head when we needed him the most.”

BL’s offense did most of its damage in the second quarter with a four-goal run in a little over three minutes, turning 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 halftime advantage. Sophomore Spencer Ford’s behind-the-back effort, tied the game with 4:54 left in the second.

After an illegal procedure on St. Mary’s on the ensuing faceoff, Brayden Garland’s unassisted score, 21 seconds after Ford’s tally, gave BL the lead for good. Zappitello, after a Laker timeout, finished a pass from Pietramala with 3:52 remaining before halftime.

Off another helper from Pietramala, Zappitello bounced a shot by Saints’ goalie Zack Overend with 97 seconds left. The Lakers did not score again until Pacheco’s tally early in the fourth, followed by Nicky Brown’s score about 90 seconds later.

Zappitello, who’s headed to Dartmouth, said it was about communication.

“Our coaches talk a lot about trust, it’s not ‘me ball’ it’s ‘we ball’ is what they say,” said Zappitello. “We just brought in and helped each other out and put the ball in the back of the net at the end of the day.”

Pietramala started BL’s Tuesday with a rip off a Garland assist midway in the opening quarter before Saints responded with goals from Bobby Keane and Jake Adams to take the lead. St. Mary’s went more than 14 minutes without a score before Will Hopkins’ tally with 5:58 left in the third quarter pulled the hosts to within 5-3.

Stoller made a chest save on Saints’ longstick George Acton’s transition bullet and sent a clearing pass past midfield. Pacheco got a step on his defender, went to the goal and scored.

The Lakers have found comfort this spring in Anne Arundel County. After losing at home to Severn School as the area’s No. 1 team, Boys’ Latin responded with a win at Archbishop Spalding in a rematch of last year’s MIAA A final.

Friday, BL lost to Calvert Hall College at J. Duncan Field in Roland Park.

“You have your routines when you’re at home…you have to know it’s going to be hostile (on road) and emotions are a little bit higher,” said Farrell. “You try to stay calm and again, I give a lot of credit to the seniors for keeping us even-keeled.”

St. Mary’s got its final tally from Jake Kuchinski in the final minute of regulation. The Saints, despite putting up nearly 50 shots, weren’t able to stress BL’s defense, especially in one-and-one encounters.

“They knew who’re personnel was and they won the matchup,” said Saints coach Victor Lilly. “Most of our shots were where we wanted them from. We hit some pipes, their goalie made saves…he’s (Stoller) a good goalie and good team defense.”

Despite Tuesday’s setback, St. Mary’s still controls its destiny for the top-seed. The Saints play at No. 2 Spalding Thursday before arch-rival and fourth-ranked Severn School comes to Pascal Field for the regular season finale.

The Lakers also control their destiny, hosting Mount St. Joseph Saturday before traveling to Brooklandville for the 104th meeting with No. 6 St. Paul’s School.

No. 5 Boys’ Latin School 7, No. 1 St. Mary’s 4

Boys’ Latin 1 4 0 2 – 7

St. Mary’s 1 1 1 1 – 4

Goals: Boys’ Latin – Zappitello 2, Brown, Ford, Garland, Pacheco, Pietramala; St. Mary’s – Hopkins, Adams, Keane, Kucinski.

Assists: Boys’ Latin – Pietramala 2, Garland, Pacheco; St. Mary’s – Hopkins 2, Golini.

Saves: Boys’ Latin – Stoller 12; St Mary’s – Overend 9.