Norfolk Academy still rules TCIS lax

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

When it comes to Tidewater Conference boys lacrosse, there are six other teams that realize Norfolk Academy is in a league of its own. Nansemond-Suffolk was reminded of that hard truth Tuesday during a 12-3 loss to the Bulldogs, but gave the visitors a stronger game than during last season’s rout.

“Those guys are by themselves in the TCIS and we’re hopefully competing for second place,” said NSA coach Ian Patrick, who taught many of his team’s opponents last year as a Norfolk Academy faculty member. “But playing teams like this exposes our weaknesses, so we can fix them. I can’t wait to play them again, hopefully in the TCIS tournament semifinals or final.”

NSA made a fairly strong showing early when it managed a 0-0 tie through the first quarter. But the play was virtually all in the Saints’ end of the field and the dam broke with two Norfolk Academy goals in the second stanza’s opening three minutes.

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The Bulldogs, who reached the state’s Division I title game last season, led 5-1 at halftime and 11-1 late before Carter Pearson and Will Crenshaw notched NSA goals to join an earlier tally by teammate Tucker Hotte.

The Saints, who are a Division II program and fell to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play, hurt themselves by committing eight penalties. They killed off seven, but that much time playing man-down defense limited their chances for any serious offensive push.

In addition, NSA hurt itself with unforced errors such as errant passes out of bounds, failure to catch good feeds and turnovers on clearing attempts. Goalkeeper C.J. White made 14 saves, including half a dozen for the highlight reel, but Norfolk Academy got too many good looks at his cage.

“St. Xavier was probably as athletic as these guys but (Norfolk Academy) has better lacrosse players,” Patrick said, referring to his team’s recent, one-goal loss to a talented team from Kentucky. “When we gave them an inch, they took a mile.”

Much of that was because the Bulldogs (9-3, 3-0) feature Tidewater’s best player in Schulyer Beecroft. An attackman by trade who also sees time in the midfield during offensive situations, Beecroft is downright scrawny but plays as though his stick is a fifth appendage. Effortless passes and shots are made even more dangerous by the senior’s agility, which tends to leave larger defenders struggling to keep up.

“He’s an outstanding artist in the classroom and you can see that creativity out here,” said Norfolk Academy coach Tom Duquette. “Once he takes off, good luck catching him.”

The same can be said about the Bulldogs en masse.