WASHINGTON D.C. — St. Albans lacrosse head coach Rory Hyland tossed the game ball to senior captain Carter Tate. Tate, upon receiving the ball, immediately decided to share it with defenseman Hugh Preas. The two Bulldogs clearly had a strong rapport with each other, the same rapport that they showed on the field. It was behind these two senior Bulldogs teammates that St. Albans took down the No. 21-ranked team in the nation, the Landon Bears.
After struggling in the first half, St. Albans caught fire right from the opening whistle of the second half, storming back from a two-goal deficit, and upsetting Landon 7-4.
Strong defense characterized the first half for Landon. After allowing St. Albans to score the opening goal, Bears goalie Mitchell Laughlin became a brick wall in front of the net. Laughlin recorded 10 saves in the first half, and provided Landon with momentum in the early stages of the game. Brett Gallagher, John Geppert and Garrett Kurtz each recorded goals in the first half as Landon went on a 3-0 run. Going into halftime, Landon led St. Albans 3-1.
“We were settling for outside shots,” Hyland said of St. Albans’ offense in the first half. “We thought if we held on to it a little more, we would get some one-on-zeroes.”
Hyland’s halftime adjustments worked beautifully, as St. Albans came out red-hot in the second half. The Bulldogs won the opening faceoff of the third quarter, and dominated from that moment on. St. Albans scored three times in the third quarter to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, Landon tied the game 4-4. In the midst of a tight game against the defending national champions, Tate stepped to the forefront.
Tate hit an impressive turnaround shot, his second goal of the game, to put St. Albans back in front 5-4, with 6:43 left in the game. Just under the three-minute mark, after forcing a huge turnover, Tate netted another clutch goal, bringing the noise from an already-loud St. Albans student section to a peak.
St. Albans would score on an open net in the final minute, the dagger that sealed the upset. The remaining seconds ticked off the clock, and the St. Albans players rushed to their goalie Will Kiernan, who dominated Landon’s potent offense in the second half. The St. Albans students rushed to the field to join in the celebration.
St. Albans had pulled off the upset, defeating Landon 7-4, and vaulting themselves into the thick of the IAC regular season title race.
Tate and Preas earned the game ball that they shared. Tate netted a hat trick, two of which broke ties and gave St. Albans the lead. “When we needed him most, he really stepped up,” Hyland said.
Preas, a defenseman, was tasked with the hardest job of any man on the field, defending Landon senior attackman Joey Epstein, arguably the nation’s best player who has committed to play at national powerhouse Johns Hopkins. However, Preas shut down the potent Epstein, holding him to just one assist, and no goals. Hyland raved about the performance of Preas and the rest of the Bulldogs defense.
With the win, St. Albans moved into a tie at the top of the IAC standings, at 1-1. They sit atop with Landon and Bullis.
“It was important for our guys to do it,” Hyland said of the win, “just because they work so hard.”
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