If you’re going to choose a way to win a close boys lacrosse game, not scoring in the second half until there’s under a minute left is a difficult way to do it.
But with a stout defensive effort, St. Anne’s-Belfield managed to hold on to beat Prep League rival St. Christopher’s Friday afternoon and snag a much-needed 7-4 win. The victory ended a four-game skid for STAB that included losses to top-ranked Paul VI, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes and Episcopal.
“It’s a big thing dropping four games in a row — three in-state games,” said STAB senior defender Michael DiGiacomo. “This game was huge for us to come out with a win. This is a huge win for us going forward, it really gave us the confidence we need.”
DiGiacomo and the other members of STAB’s seasoned defensive unit had to hold up for incredibly long stretches in the second half as St. Christopher’s controlled possession. The Saints’ defenders had a 6-2 advantage to work with at halftime, and right out of the gate, they withstood a four-minute St. Christopher’s possession to start the third quarter. St. Chris finally struck with Luke Valentine, who had a hat trick, scoring with eight seconds left in the third to pull St. Christopher’s within three goals.
“Our defense was incredible today, we just really had some breakdowns in the clearing game,” said St. Anne’s coach Bo Perriello. “In the second half it forced us to play incredibly large amounts of defense so I was really disappointed with our inability to get the ball up and out, but I was really pleased with our defense and goalie play today.”
The fourth quarter started in similar fashion to the third, with STAB’s defense holding up for 3:10, including Thomas Harry taking a shot off his facemask. The Saints have gotten used to having to stay locked in for long periods of possession this year in part because of struggles on faceoffs, though STAB played St. Christopher’s pretty even there with a slight 7-6 advantage for St. Christopher’s Friday.
“It’s not something that’s been unusual for us this year, we’ve been in those situations before,” DiGiacomo said. “But all week we’ve been focusing on keeping our heads and making sure we have the mental capacity to stay in our sets and make sure we’re getting back in the hole and re-finding our men to get the matchups we like.”
St. Christopher’s just couldn’t seem to get into an offensive groove enough to crack the unit manned by DiGiacomo, Evan Swett, Harry and Doug Brooks as well as keeper Jeffrey Perkins who had 11 saves. DiGiacomo, Swett and Harry combined for 12 ground balls with Swett’s five leading the way. St. Christopher’s did manage to cut the lead to 6-4 with a little more than seven minutes to play on a fastbreak goal by Will Hayes, but that was as close as they got as the STAB defense continued to stand up.
On offense, STAB looked strong early, with DiGiacomo’s longtick fastbreak goal highlighting the first half where STAB built a 6-2 lead.
“We had a great outlet pass from Jeffrey Perkins to D.J. Dickerson and I was just sprinting up the field,” DiGiacomo said. “I got the pass from D.J. running the break and the defender didn’t slide and I was able to put it off the far post.”
Trent Moran’s two first half goals and an assist led the attack while Vito Perriello, Michael McGraw and Javon Johnson all scored once before the break. McGraw had that lone second half goal with just 51 seconds to play. Emmett Barger continues to draw a ton of attention from opposing defenses but sparked the offense with two first half assists.
“The first half I thought our execution was good, we were able to get some quick goals in the first quarter,” Bo Perriello said. “But we weren’t able to get back to that flow in the second half and had to play way too much defense.”
Walker Wallace had six saves for St. Christopher’s in the cage.
The Saints will battle Virginia Episcopal on the road Monday before travelling to take on Cape Henry Friday.