St. Anne’s-Belfield’s boys lacrosse team was coming off one of the best wins in program history over a national opponent, a decisive victory over No. 6-ranked Avon Old Farms Friday night.
So the Saints were a little tired. A little worn out.
A let down against another power in Penn Charter in a game that was pushed to UVa’s Carr’s Hill field due to an event conflict at STAB’s lower school — a schedule changed that actually forced the Saints to walk from their campus to the field on the edge of UVa’s grounds — would’ve been understandable.
The Saints’ efficient offense and keeper Jeffrey Perkins’ 17 saves made sure that didn’t happen as STAB picked up a second-straight impressive win on the weekend, edging Penn Charter 9-8.
Perkins’ 17 stops came just a day after he made 12 saves against Avon and showed just how locked in the senior keeper is playing.
“I think (it’s) experience and just trust with our guys on defense,” Perkins said. “We huddle up before every play and after every play and just say we’ve got each other’s backs.”
That defense withstood a fourth quarter run by the Quakers who scored two goals in the final two minutes to squeeze the gap down to just a single goal. The Saints’ defense made a stand in the final 30 seconds — forcing a couple of errant passes — to prevent the equalizer.
“Last year was a real learning experience for (Perkins) and growing throughout the year and eventually being an All-Prep goalie, he’s playing with so much confidence this year,” said STAB coach Bo Perriello. “We’ve seen it certainly in the last two days not just in the number of saves but the quality. He’s making some incredible, tight saves on some great shooters.”
It was a particular challenge for the defense because while the offense was in a rhythm similar to the one they found against Avon, they couldn’t get their hands on the ball much. Penn Charter’s Gavin Tygh, a junior faceoff specialist who is a UVa commit, gave the Quakers a 17-to-5 advantage on the draw, winning nearly 80 percent of the faceoffs. That put some serious pressure on the STAB defense, particularly late in the game with Penn Charter rallying. The Saints’ defense stood the test, with Perkins’ 17 saves as the backbone and strong efforts by Michael DiGiacomo and Doug Brooks who had three groundballs each. Thomas Harry, Michael Babbott and Evan Swett also helped combine for the lockdown effort.
“We just know the ball is coming our way and we’ve got to be ready,” Perkins said. “We were up and that guy gets a couple of faceoffs and goals can come quick. We’ve just got to stay ready.”
Offensively, the Saints were strong when they got the ball and built a 6-4 halftime lead that became a 9-5 lead with a strong third quarter. Trent Moran posted a hat trick and an assist while Emmett Barger, who gave the Penn Charter defense fits, had two goals and an assist. DiGiacomo, Vito Perriello and Gunni Horridge each had one goal while Sav Moore and Michael McGraw each notched an assist. Javon Johnson’s goal rounded out the offensive effort and his return after a year at McCallie in Tennessee has given the Saints a big spark.
“His leadership, we’ve really been encouraging him to be more and more aggressive to the cage,” Perriello said. “In the last two games we’ve seen him taking a lot more hard dodges up the pipes, he’s just really hard to cover.”
STAB enters the next phase of their season in less than two weeks with St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes and Paul VI coming to town April 4th and April 7th. They’ll tune up for that stretch against Frank W. Cox and St. Xavier next week.