Potomac goalie Connor Laughlin was—statistically speaking—the star of the game. In the first quarter alone, the senior saved it for the Panthers seven times in an unofficial count. Three more saves followed in the second quarter. Throughout the game, St. Stephen’s shooters watched as good looks were squandered by Laughlin’s superb goalkeeping.
But saying the goalie the goalie performed well is like saying your insurance policy pays well: the damage is usually already done. In fact, the Saints took thirteen shots at goal in the first quarter. With Laughlin’s seven saves, and two errant shots, they still scored four goals, and led 4-1 after a quarter. Thirty seconds into the second, junior midfielder Brent Armstrong side-armed it in, to extend the lead 5-1. A Matt Carney goal at 3:58 completed the scoring in the opening half with a 6-2 St. Stephen's lead. The offense turned the throttle up in the second half, claiming nine goals, and leaving Potomac’s picturesque venue with a 15-4 win.
This was quite a different performance than the one St. Stephen’s gave on Saturday in an 8-3 loss against Calvert Hall. Some fans in attendance could not recall a face-off or ground ball that the Saints took in the entire game. Whatever the problems were, coach Andrew Taibl’s team seems to have put them in the past, at least for this week, winning two games by five or more goals and improving to 3-1. Taibl was especially impressed by his team’s attitude.
“Good teams bust their ass, you don’t exacerbate [the problem] with a bad attitude,” he told his players after the game, realizing the mountain-and-valley fortunes this season are likely to bring. “There are going to sparks where it is good, then there are going to be times where it’s not going to be good.” When asked for permission to use his comments, he said “sure, those comments just about say it all.”
The team showed its focus by rarely wavering from their selected offensive strategy. Virtually every time St. Stephen’s had the ball, they utilized junior attack Grant Swaney as a “point guard” stationed to the goalie’s left. When Potomac’s defense closed, the ball went back to Swaney, who began the process again. This scheme created scoring opportunities, and ultimately goals for a number of shooters, including the team’s two hat-trick performers: Sophomore Attack Seth Miller (4 goals), and Armstrong (3).
Defensively, the Saints played simple but stubborn, limiting player-to-watch Mikey Duffy to only one goal…and he had to work for what he got, dodging several defenders to score spectacularly early in the fourth (St. Stephen’s highlight of the game was a coast-to coast long-stick goal by senior Aaron Moorefield). “We knew they have some talented scorers,” said Taibl “and defensively, we have a lot of new players. We have to learn to hammer it home.”
“Sometimes, there will be guys we have to key off on. But I tell them if we execute, we will get the best result.”
|3||St. Stephen's & St. Agnes||3-1||0-0|