St. Paul’s scores first, but Culver scores the next nine on the way to a 12-4 rout

by Dave Larkin

Junior attackman Andrew Milani led St. Paul’s with two goals and two assists, and sophomore goalie James Grant shined with eight saves, but the Crusaders fell to the powerhouse Culver Academy (IN), 12-4 at home on Monday.

The Eagles from Culver displayed outstanding stick-work, a frenetic passing game, and their “Beast” of a face-off man to dominate St. Paul’s on a beautiful Spring day in Brooklandville.

The Crusaders jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal by Milani with 7:45 left in the first quarter. The Eagles, with the help of junior face-off specialist Alec Stathakis, then scored the next nine goals to lead 9-1 at the half. Penalties and turnovers plagued the feisty Crusaders throughout, and first year coach Trey Whitty knows that to compete against the best, those mistakes must be corrected.

“Early in the game, a couple of failed clears is what really hurt us, and then some penalties to give them possession and man-up – you can’t do that against a really good team,” said Whitty. “The bottom line is we felt that we didn’t have the ball the second half of the first quarter, and then to start the second.”

Whitty changed his face-off strategy and brought in senior defenseman Andrew Caples to square off with Stathakis. The long stick helped, and the two teams played an exciting and even second half.

Culver Academy coach Jon Posner has amassed an impressive 234-54 record in his 13 years at the helm. The New York native used his fast-paced offensive scheme to finish 2017 as the USA Today’s No. 1 ranked team, and the Eagles are soaring again this season.

“We are all about ball movement and practice”, said Posner. “We have a limit of three seconds, and we gotta move it, and we did it well today.”

Posner also appreciates the value of a dominant face-off man. When asked about his University of Denver recruit, Posner said, “He’s a beast. He’s a junior; he’s strong, when you have the ball on offense all of the time, you can win a lot of games.”

Stathakis laughs at any comparisons to Denver’s senior face-off ace Trevor Baptiste, widely considered the top man at the X in the college ranks. “Ha, I mean that’s a pretty big name to live up to.”

St. Paul’s hosts Washington-Kilbourne on Thursday and will begin their MIAA A Conference schedule at Loyola Blakefield on April 6th.