St. Albans Lacrosse hosted Landon at Steuart Field in a critical IAC game Thursday with implications in the early season standings. STA was coming off a heartbreaking one-goal loss to Bullis last week and Landon had topped Georgetown Prep by a goal earlier in the week setting up the opportunity for Landon to pull two games ahead of the Bulldogs or for the teams to be tied at one win and one loss apiece.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter. After Liam McCarthy made several big saves in goal, Chris Berry ignited the STA offense with an acrobatic dodge at the crease at the 5:31 mark. Just over a minute later, McCarthy made a point blank save that Miles Harmon scooped up and carried up the left wing. Harmon found Pasha Hakimi for a transition goal to put STA up 2-0 at 4:08. In a preview of things to come later, St. Albans intercepted a Landon clear late in the first quarter and Bob Gross ripped a shot to the high right corner with 1.4 seconds left to give the Bulldogs their 3-0 lead.
Landon regrouped between quarters and closed the gap to 3-2 with renewed offensive confidence and stingy defense. The Bears got on the board at 9:35 and then Cameron Brown scored off a right-wing dodge at 5:38. McCarthy and Landon’s Hunter Taylor exchanged several outstanding saves the rest of the quarter and the first half ended with the Bulldogs up 3-2. As the second half started, the Bears picked up from where they left off, tying the game on a Kevin Miller goal 56 seconds into the third quarter. STA freshman Andrew Allen answered less than a minute later with a highlight reel goal. Allen dodged a long pole with a swim move from 20 yards out, slipped a double team at the 10, and ripped a left-handed shot to the low right corner to put the Bulldogs back up 4-3 at 10:10. St. Albans struck again a minute and a half later with their speed in transition. This time Luke Harmon picked off a Landon pass, raced down the left wing, slashed to the middle, and hit Hakimi in stride on the right wing who buried the shot from 12 yards out for his second goal of the game and a 5-3 STA lead at 8:37. That score stood for the rest of the third quarter as both teams made great defensive stops and McCarthy and Taylor continued their goaltending duel that included big saves from each of them in the final minute of the quarter.
Landon swung the momentum back their way early in the 4th quarter with a goal at 10:27 and another at 9:23 to tie the game at 5. Miles Harmon put STA back up 6-5 at 7:20. Landon mounted a comeback at that point, tying the game at 6:11 on a dodge off the right wing, a play on which St. Albans was also assessed a penalty. The Bears took advantage of that opportunity with a man-up goal at 5:29 to grab their first lead of the game. Landon scored what many in the large crowd thought was the game clincher with 2:25 on the clock, but the final chapter of this version of the Landon/STA rivalry was yet to be written.
STA’s FOGO Will Roberts, who dominated the faceoff circle all day, was whistled for an early start on the ensuing faceoff. Landon drained as much time as possible on their possession and STA forced a turnover with a little more than a minute left in regulation. With Hakimi looking for another goal in transition, the Landon defense stood its ground. STA’s Ethan Engel drew a Landon penalty with 34.4 seconds on the clock. Senior Corbet Darden brought the Bulldogs to within one, making it 8-7 on a cross-field feed just off the right post and burying a shot to the low left corner with 24.7 seconds left. The game clock actually ran down to 22.7 after the goal. Roberts won the faceoff and ran down the right wing into Landon territory at which point Coach Colin Heeter called timeout to set up the Bulldogs’ final offensive possession. Coach Heeter and his staff had been asking for the 2 seconds from the Darden goal to be put back on the clock and the officials corrected that error during the timeout. The Bulldogs emerged from their sideline with 17.2 seconds to tie the game. Landon sniffed out the STA play, intercepting a pass in front of the net. The Landon defender ran up the left side and let go of a long clear that junior Luke Bernasek grabbed for STA. Bernasek scrambled up the field and fired a desperation shot from 25 yards out with 2 seconds left. Senior James DiOrio, stationed at the goal crease, snatched the shot out of the air and calmly slipped the ball around Taylor as time expired to play Hero #1 in this game for the ages.
Roberts, who was over 70% on faceoffs for the game, won the overtime faceoff and STA used their timeout to set up the potential game-winning goal. Narrowly missing an opportunity in front of the net, the Bulldogs turned the ball over and Landon had their chance to set up the winning play. With 1:18 on the clock, a Landon attackman found some daylight in front of the STA goal but was quickly double teamed by Bernasek and Luke Harmon, who jarred the ball loose. McCarthy corralled the high bouncing ball and cleared to Hakimi. Hakimi dished to Luke Harmon at the midfield line, who ran to the 15 before working the ball back to Hakimi at the 20. The junior LSM stutter stepped around a defender at the 15 and released a shot from 12 yards that found the left side of the net to give him a hat trick on the day, elevate him to STA’s second Hero of the afternoon along with DiOrio and touched off a jubilant celebration among STA players and student body.
With the win St. Albans improves their season record to 12-4 overall and 1-1 in the IAC.
No rest for the weary...The Bulldogs have three games next week, all at home, hosting Paul VI Monday and Potomac School Tuesday before another big IAC game against Georgetown Prep Friday. All three games start at 4:30pm on Steuart Field.