Playing for the second time in eight days, the chips were down for the St. Anne’s-Belfield and Woodberry lacrosse teams in the first round of the VISAA Division 1 playoffs. And with the Saints up by two in the third quarter but facing a three minute man down situation, the game was going to break one way or the other.
With STAB killing off the penalty and getting a goal in the process from Savraj Moore, it was home team coming out on top. The Tigers answered shortly thereafter with a goal from Hawkins Schnabel, but it was their lone strike of the second half. With a pair of Jovan Johnson goals afterwards, St. Anne’s moved on to the quarterfinals with a 9-5 victory.
“It’s always tough to play any team twice,” said STAB coach Bo Perriello. “Certainly Woodberry, given their staff and players, we knew we were going to have to be a little better (than last week) today. It wasn’t so much about changing things. It was about making sure we were really focused running our stuff with the focus on the details.”
Just like the week before, the first half was hotly contested. Woodberry struck first with Gray Hathaway scoring in the first two minutes. With each Saints response, the Tigers figure out a way to respond in kind as well keeping things very close until late in the third.
“We came in fired up for the opportunity,” said Tigers coach Spotty Robbins. “We weren’t sure two days ago whether we were going to be able to play again. So the theme the last couple of days was ‘How hard would you play if you knew there was no tomorrow.’ So the effort was never in question, and it never will be with these guys. They’re always going to give you everything they’ve got.”
It was back-and-forth in the first with Trent Moran getting three goals in the first half and the last coming early in the second quarter to make it 4-4.
After that, it was all about STAB’s penalty killing unit. A turnover created and finished on the fly by Michael DiGiacomo gave the Saints their first lead at 5-4 despite being a man down with 7:11 until the break.
“It was just one of those things that fell into place as it happened,” DiGiacomo said. “We knew that if we got the lefty attack men down that the (long pole) could shoot. So we practiced that coming into this game. We got that to happen and I was able to get the goal.”
Then Michael McGraw finished off a pass from Emmet Barger to make it 6-4 going into the half.
In the middle of the third STAB was hit with the big penalty, but two minutes into the kill, Moore finished off a high-low fake in front of the goal to make to 7-4 with 4:40 left in the frame.
“Thankfully we figured things out there and they made a mistake,” said STAB goalkeeper Jeffrey Perkins. “We kept our cool there and made it out. We had to hunker down. That was a turning point in the game for us.”
The Tigers answered a minute later with Schnabel able to cut the deficit back to two. That would be as close as it would get in the second half though with Saints getting a huge game from Perkins in goal and the defense in front of him not turning the ball over in transition the rest of the way forward.
“In that last half I said to myself, ‘These are my last couple of minutes out here on this field,” Perkins said. “I just tried to put it together with my guys infront of me, make as many as stops as we could. A save would be made and then I’d just see my guys wide open and so we got it up and out and we got some goals out of it too.”
With 1.7 seconds left in the third, the hero of Tuesday’s overtime win over Collegiate came up with a big goal. Javon Johnson made it 8-5 going into the fourth. He also scored the only goal of the fourth, striking with 5:07 left to wrap up the scoring at 9-5.
“We came in hoping to kind of control the pace and tempo and I think we did that in the first half and it got away from us in the second,” Robbins said.
For STAB, Moran finished with four goals on the day to lead all scorers. Perkins had 11 saves in net with four of them coming the fourth quarter.
Woodberry was led by Hathaway who had three goals and an assist. Schnabel finished with two goals.
The loss ends a season that saw the Tigers improve from week-to-week to wiggle their way into the playoffs, something that was a bit of a long shot not two many weeks ago.
“You learn more from a loss than a win,” Robbins said. “These young guys have a had a wealth of experience this year in different situations. Us going on runs, other team’s going on runs. Different teams, different places, different times of the afternoon, night. That experience can only make them better. We have 19 juniors. They’re in a place to step into that leadership role moving foward.”
STAB will hit the road Tuesday to face Episcopal in the VISAA quarterfinals. The Maroon topped the Saints 9-7 in the only meeting this year, also in Alexandria.
Former St. Anne’s coach and administrator Doug Tarring hangs it up after 45 years
Doug Tarring has worn all the hats there are to wear at STAB since he started at the school. He’s had multiple stints at the school coaching the lacrosse team, his last coming in 2008 when the Saints beat St. Steven’s-St. Agnes for a VISAA Division 1 championship. That was his seventh state title feather in the cap. For the current STAB seniors and coaches, the final home game of the season meant a lot.
“It was huge with Doug Tarring retiring after almost a half century here at STAB,” DiGiacomo said. “It’s just a big win for him and his legacy.”
At halftime on Saturday, Tarring was honored by the coach that preceded his last run as coach, former coach and player Michael Woodfolk in a retirement ceremony that featured more than a dozen former players by Tarring’s side. Tarring spoke briefly during the end of the ceremory and noted how fitting it was to play against Woodberry, a program that he worked so closely with to develop lacrosse in Central Virginia into the consistently successful product this area has become so accustomed to these past few decades.
For Perriello who took over as head coach in 2009 for Tarring but also played for him growing up, the ride has been quite sentimental. And obviously he’s excited to try and continue to keep STAB rolling.
“To get a win (today) having played for him, having coached with him and continuing to work under him, it is just really important for us to continue the legacy he created,” Perriello said. “(We have to) continue to put the product on the field that he’s proud of.”
Of course just because Tarring is calling it a career at the school during the day after many years of coaching (31), directing the athletic department (32) and more, don’t expect him to be a stranger to the STAB sidelines.
“He’ll be the Godfather of the program forever,” Perriello said. “I’m sure he’ll be happy to weigh in and let us know what we can do at any given time.”
Already a member of the Virginia Lacrosse Hall of Fame, there’s not a lot left for Tarring to do at STAB. But even in retirement he’ll likely find a way.