In a marque match-up of MIAA A Conference lacrosse powers, No. 3 Boys’ Latin mixed in a defensive wrinkle and rode a sensational performance from senior goalkeeper Jack Pezzula to knock off No. 2 Calvert Hall, 6-5, Tuesday afternoon at BL.

Calvert Hall had trouble putting the ball on goal for much of the afternoon, seemingly flustered by a zone defense employed by the Lakers. When the Cardinals did hit the mark, however, more often than not their shots were turned away by Pezzula, who made 17 saves on the afternoon.

“What an instant classic, out here at BL against Calvert Hall. You couldn’t ask for a better performance from both teams. They really gave us a challenge and our defense really stepped up,” said Pezzula. “We ran the zone because they have quick guys. We didn’t think we could get beat one-on-one, but I feel like it was safer to run the zone. We ran our zone most of the game and it turned out to work for us. I was making outside saves and seeing the ball today.”

Calvert Hall’s Connor Pearce scored the first goal of the game, on a feed from Jacob Kelly, but the Lakers’ Greg Ey scored consecutive unassisted tallies to push BL in front and the Lakers led by at least one goal the rest of the way.

Boys’ Latin took a significant turn towards victory late in the third quarter, ironically enough, when it was a man down. Shortly after Pearce netted his second score of the day, to pull Calvert Hall within one, at 4-3, BL’s Ryan McNulty was called for a pair of penalties and sent to the box for 3 minutes, with the first two minutes being unreleasable.

What appeared to be a golden opportunity for the Cardinals was nullified, however, when the Calvert Hall bench was penalized before the teams even returned to the field. This reversed possession to BL’s favor and the Lakers took full advantage. After killing the first portion of the penalty, BL scored a crushing short-handed goal with 21.5 seconds to play in the third. Matt Brandau made a flip pass to Brendan Mullally, on the left side of the Cardinal goal, and Mullally stuffed it in the cage for a 5-3 lead.

The Lakers then took their biggest lead of the game, at 6-3, with 8 minutes, 39 seconds to go in the final quarter, when Koby Russell fed Dylan Kowalewski for a score.

Calvert Hall did not quit and fought back within one goal once again.

Kelly, who scored a spectacular behind the head goal in the second quarter, beat Pezzula for an unassisted tally, with 6 and a half minutes left, and JT Bugliosi, with an assist from Brendan Curry, got the Cardinals back within 6-5, with 5 minutes, 37 seconds to go in regulation.

It stayed right there until the final two minutes when Calvert Hall was once again able to mount some sustained pressure. The Cardinals even got another extra-man opportunity with 50 seconds left in regulation, but Pezzula came up with his final two stops and the Lakers sealed the victory when they were able to regain possession in the final seconds.

“They are so fast and so athletic, we thought we had to throw something different at them,” said BL first year coach Brian Farrell in explaining his use of the zone against the Cardinals. “They hadn’t seen it all year so our guys bought into the game plan.”

Farrell also discussed the significance of killing off the third quarter penalties and grabbing a short-handed goal.

“I think it speaks volumes about our team, really,” said Farrell. “A lot of teams would get upset about that. You can let that change the way you play, but our guys stayed the course. They didn’t panic and they just played lacrosse.”

Kelly and Pearce finished with 2 goals each to lead Calvert Hall, with Kelly adding an assist and Bugliosi having a goal and an assist. Ey and Mullally had two scores each for Boys’ Latin, while Matt Brandau finished with a goal and two assists. Calvert Hall goalkeeper Joe McSorely also played well, finishing with 9 saves.

CH  1  1  1  2  —  5
BL   2  1  2  1  —  6
CH-Pearce 2, Kelly 2, Bugliosi 1; BL-Ey 2, Mullally 2, M. Brandau 1, Booth 1.
ASSISTS: CH-Kelly 1, Bugliosi 1, Curry 1; BL-M. Brandau 2, Aburn 1.
SAVES: CH-McSorely 9; BL-Pezzula 17.