HYATTSVILLE – All the DeMatha Catholic High School boys lacrosse team needed was one more goal to sustain their hard-fought win over Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) foes Bishop Ireton on March 22.
After a tough first half, sophomore Dakota Eierman had a chance to redeem himself. The shifty midfielder dodged one Cardinal defender and released a quick shot. The ball whizzed past the head of Bishop Ireton goalie Nick Greve for the game-winning goal.
“I did not play well in the first half, didn’t finish,” Eirman said, “So (I) just wanted to go out there and get some shots on the goal.”
The goal helped DeMatha escape with an 8-7 victory on March 22.
The Stags were led by junior attack Aiden Toles who finished with five points plays with a hat trick in goals while handing out two assists, followed up by a pair goals from midfielder Ricky Gloekler. The victory was DeMatha’s (4-2) fourth in five games.
“We got a ways to go,” DeMatha Head Coach Scott Morrison said. “We graduated 15 seniors (from) last year, and we are still at that point where we got to find out what everyone’s role will be.”
The Stags came out hot in the first half behind Toles as he orchestrated a masterful first 24 minutes. After scoring the first goal of the day, he fed a pass to a diving Evan Ostrowski for DeMatha’s second tally of the game. The junior quickly found the net on his own for back-to-back goals right afterward.
The Cardinals (3-2) responded when junior Conor Casey scored on his second of three goals to narrow the score.
However, Toles reemerged, connecting with junior Ryan Pritchard who ripped a shot from nearly 15-feet away and gave the Stags a 5-2 lead as halftime approached. Torrential rain then came down moments later and delayed the game for a little under an hour, halting the momentum of the Stags.
After the delay was lifted, the Cardinals went on an incredible 4-0 run and took a 6-5 lead following the dominant quarter.
Bishop Ireton won all but two faceoffs in the quarter, had eight shots on goal and the Cardinal defense forced a shot clock violation against the humming DeMatha offense. The spurt was set off by junior Connor Slattery, who sent two bounce shots passed Stags goalie Matthew Taylor to bring Ireton back to within one.
“We stood tough, did not let our heads get down,” Toles said, “We got to finish our opportunities off better.”
Casey completed the comeback when during a one-man advantage after a checking penalty, the Cardinals attack unit whipping the ball around until Casey found the best shot and scored by the cage circle. Senior Sam Markle added another goal to give the Cardinals the lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Stags responded with their own stunning three-goal spurt early on in the final frame. DeMatha won the ensuing faceoff, collected the groundball and handed over to Gloecker to set up a momentum-grabbing quarter. The junior dodged one Cardinal defender and unleashed a shot from the right of the net to tie the game at 6-all.
Moments later, after Junior Harold Peters forced a groundball on the defensive side, DeMatha whipped the ball around, patiently waiting for an open shot until Gloecker unleashed a quick blast to give the Stags the lead they wanted.
DeMatha iced the game late in the fourth following their 12th faceoff win of the match. The Cardinals were able to score once more when with the clock winding down and the DeMatha defense let their guard down. That final goal left the DeMatha coaching staff with a bad taste in their mouth, delivering a message to their young team to finish all four quarters.
“It’s a coaching cliché, but it’s always true,” Morrison said on his post-game message, “we’re playing like seven-eight sophomores on a regular basis. We are very young, but that can’t be an excuse for us.”
DeMatha will look to continue their winning ways with a home game against St. Ignatius on March 24 and traveling to Florida to take on Lake Brantley (March 27) and Bishop Moore (March 29). They return to WCAC play on April 2 for a road game against St. Mary’s Ryken.