St. Paul’s ousts Gilman in MIAA A lacrosse playoff opener on Atkinson’s OT goal (VIDEO HERE!)

St. Paul’s sophomore Brody Atkinson (right) is congratulated after Thursday’s MIAA A Conference lacrosse playoff opener. Atkinson’s goal with 0.1 second left in overtime, lifted the Crusaders to an 8-7 victory over Gilman School in Brooklandville.

by Tom Peace

The beauty of lacrosse in the MIAA A Conference is you can never count a team out of a game. St. Paul’s School proved that Thursday.

The Crusaders defeated Gilman School, 8-7, in overtime in a first round match at Tullai Field in Brooklandville. Brody Atkinson’s goal, with just 0.1 seconds left in the extra session, propels St. Paul’s, the No. 8 seed into Saturday’s quarterfinals at top-seed McDonogh School.

Down three goals in the fourth, the Crusaders (4-6 overall) scored the final four goals, capped with a frantic run in the final seconds of overtime as long pole Gavin Cary picked up a groundball after goalie Max Watkinson deflected a Gilman shot.

He took it upfield and dished off to Atkinson, who did a nifty dodge roll and stuffed a shot past Greyhound goalie Kyle Morris for the walk-off.

“We worked hard today,” said Atkinson, who was mobbed by his teammates. “I don’t know…we have an opportunity now. It was looking rough.”

After a 19-2 loss Tuesday to Boys’ Latin, and 11-5 home loss to Gilman last week, the Crusaders’ season appeared to be on life support after Charlie Pope’s shot gave Gilman, the No. 9 seed, a 7-4 lead with 9:37 left in regulation.

The Crusaders mounted a comeback over the next three minutes. Junior attack Braden Klausner’s score, which the ball crept over the goalline, sandwiched between two Kabe Clark’s unassisted scores, pulled St. Paul’s even at seven with 5:52 remaining.

“It wasn’t good, but I felt like we were in it the whole time,” said Crusaders coach Trey Whitty. “We had a tough stretch at the end of the first into the second that dugged us a hole…the guys kept battling.“

The Crusaders trailed 4-1 in the second quarter before Colin Chizmar brought the hosts within two goals, but Gilman owned a 6-4 halftime advantage. The score held through the third.

Chizmar said St. Paul’s wasn’t deterred after falling behind 7-4 in the fourth.

“As you guys know we don’t have the most talented team in the MIAA by any means, but we are working the hardest,” said Chimer, a senior captain who will play for Marquette University next spring “And that’s why we are here and that why we won this game.”

Whitty said afterwards a longstick defender hadn’t scored or assisted until Cary’s run and dump off to Atkinson, who was able to beat his defender, and the overtime clock.

Gilman coach John Nostrant thought his team was “OK,” after getting up 7-4 in the fourth, but realized, especially in the MIAA A, that’s Fool’s Gold.

Brody Atkinson (left) and Noah Chizmar helped St. Paul’s into the MIAA A quarterfinals. The No. 8 seed Crusaders play at top-seed and undefeated McDonogh School, Saturday at noon at John McDonogh Stadium in Owings Mills.

“The momentum switched and we were holding on for dear life…give credit to St. Paul’s,” said Nostrant. “They got buried Tuesday and came back. Our guys competed, we had opportunity at the end and didn’t cash in.”

Next for St. Paul’s is undefeated and top-seed McDonogh, ranked No. 3 nationally by Inside Lacrosse. The Eagles defeated St. Paul’s, 12-5, a couple of weeks ago on Tullai Field.

The Crusaders don’t feel pressure going in as underdogs.

“Obviously they are really good right now honestly, really well coached and talented.  They are Undefeated in our league what do we have to lose right right we’re gonna go in there and give it our all in fight like heck and then hopefully it ends up on the right side for us.”