Second-half blitz helps No. 1 McDonogh overcome St. Paul’s

Liam Powderly had two goals and three assists to help top-ranked McDonogh win a St. Paul’s.

by Nelson Coffin

After being shut out for nearly 25 minutes by the energetic St. Paul’s defense, the No. 1 McDonogh’s boys lacrosse team needed a goal in the worst way Friday afternoon at Martin D. Tullai Field in Brooklandville.

Fortunately for the Eagles, Liam Powderly delivered just in the nick of time to regain the momentum they had lost after starting the MIAA A Conference contest by scoring four unanswered goals in less than nine minutes.

St. Paul’s responded in kind on goals by junior attackmen Andrew Milani, Tyler Harry and Troy Barthelme and senior midfielder Spencer Hall to deadlock the score at halftime.

The sixth-ranked Crusaders (7-5, 3-2 conference) then completed the 5-0 run when senior midfielder Aidan Karay opened the third quarter with a rocket to the upper left corner, putting McDonogh on upset alert until Powderly came through in an unorthodox manner to jump start a come-from-behind 11-6 victory.

On a mad scramble for possession between several players behind the St. Paul’s cage, the ball ultimately squirted toward goal-line extended where the junior attackman scooped it up and in one motion flipped it into the net while diving headlong to the turf to tie the score, 5-5, with 5:34 left in the period.

“We were scrapping for it and riding hard,” said Powderly, who led all scorers with a pair of goals and three assists. “I was in the right spot at the right time. It was nice to get some momentum back. We started really well and then they did a really good job of tying it up at half.”

He noted that St. Paul’s backline was making things difficult for the Eagles (9-4, 4-1) during the long scoring drought.

“I think they were doing a good job positionally,” Powderly said. “And they were packing it in a little bit, too. It was tough there in the second quarter, but we were able to adapt.”

Powderly also helped the Eagles snap the tie when he fed junior attackman Matt Hilgartner for the go-ahead goal three minutes later.

Just 18 second after that, senior attackmen Jack Sweeney (goal) and Jackson Cummings (assist) teamed up to make it 7-5 after sophomore midfielder Gable Braun won the face-off to ignite a transition goal.

Powderly’s left-handed shot off a turnaround dodge with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter ballooned the lead to 8-5.

Braun then stuck a shot in the upper right corner after winning the opening draw of the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a 9-5 advantage.

St. Paul’s senior Logan Zimnoch’s lefty-rocket was the only retort the Crusaders could muster in the final period, and it wasn’t enough to match McDonogh’s suddenly hot offense, which also produced goals by sophomore midfielder Dane Swanson and senior midfielder Nathan Walsh to secure the win.

“I think we might have relaxed a little bit (with the lead),” McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner said. “We had kind of lost our energy. But then we scrapped to get that hustle goal. That was huge for us.”

St. Paul’s coach Trey Whitty, Hilgartner’s defensive coordinator last year at McDonogh, said that his team has shown to be very resilient this spring.

“We held them scoreless for more than 20 minutes,” the former St. Paul’s and Virginia defenseman said.

Whitty praised junior long-stick Mason Woodward for holding McDonogh senior middle Jack Simmons to one goal and also had kind words for sophomore goalie Jamie Grant, who finished with 10 saves.

“Jamie has been great all year,” he said. “And Mason is one of the best players in the league, and nobody’s talking about him. He’s a game-changer.”

McDonogh will have week off before hosting unranked John Carroll next Friday.

St. Paul’s will welcome No. 12 Archbishop Spalding to Tullai Field on Tuesday before traveling to Roland Park to meet unranked Gilman on Friday.

MCD 4 0 4 3 — 11
SP 0 4 1 1 — 6
GOALS: MCD-Liam Powderly 2, Jack Sweeney 3, Matt Hilgartner, Nathan Walsh, Jackson Cummings, Gable Braun, Griffin Catlett, Dane Swanson; SP-Logan Zimnoch, Aidan Karay, Troy Barthelme, Andrew Milani, Tyler Harry, Jack Stamm.
ASSISTS: MCD-Liam Powderly 3, BJ Farrare, Jackson Cummings, Griffin Catlett; SP-Cole Ament.
SAVES: MCD-Evan Long 9; SP-Jamie Grant 10.