Saints rout Cape Henry in TCIS semis
Published 10:08 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009
Why would the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy boys lacrosse team want to risk a full-tilt effort Friday in the Tidewater Conference tournament final against Norfolk Academy? The Saints, who have a real shot at winning a state Division II title next weekend, romped 10-2 over Cape Henry in a Thursday conference semifinal but will be presumed sacrificial lambs against the mighty Bulldogs.
Norfolk Academy (16-4) routed the Saints (11-4) twice last season and again earlier this spring. The Bulldogs have reached the Division I championship game three consecutive seasons and have won 12 of their last 13 games. Jackrabbit attackman Schuyler Beecroft led the conference with 52 goals and 86 points during the regular season and he and his teammates have held 10 opponents, including NSA, to five or fewer goals.
Surely, the Saints are best to concede a whipping and save their bodies for the state playoffs? The question was put to Saints coach Ian Patrick tongue-in-cheek but his reply was dead serious.
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“To not go all-out would teach our boys the wrong lesson,” said Patrick, who taught at Norfolk Academy last school year while serving as NSA’s assistant coach.
“We always talk about playing every game as if it’s your last so we’re going to go for it. High school sports, in my opinion, is about more than winning championships.”
That doesn’t mean NSA isn’t salivating at another chance to upset their powerful rivals. And although it would take the Saints’ best effort of the season and then some to pull it off, such a dream scenario might begin with a single player who rarely scores.
That’s NSA midfielder Rich Brummett, an undersized scrapper who’s emerged as his team’s faceoff specialist. So good is the senior that Patrick limits his time in full-field play a bit, wanting to save his energy for possession dogfights on the midfield X.
If this sounds like a reach, consider that a significant part of Norfolk Academy’s success the past two years has been because of Carter Moore’s faceoff magic. Patrick said he expects to see Moore one day playing NCAA Division I lacrosse purely because of his low-down stick skills. So if the Saints are to have any hope of shocking the local lacrosse world, Brummett must shine.
He did Thursday, losing only two faceoffs against a Cape Henry squad expected to put up much more of a fight. NSA escaped a regular season road game against the Dolphins earlier this spring with a two-goal victory in comeback style. But there was no drama this time.
Saints attackman Will Crenshaw, who scored four goals, notched two of them in the first six minutes and Harris Howell also scored, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Howell scored again later in the game and Sam Rapaport also tallied twice. Single goals came from Sam Edwards and Tucker Hotte and Cape Henry trailed 10-0 before it scored.
“We knew what to expect from them offensively after the first game,” said Patrick, whose defense is playing without injured standout Josh Todd. “We covered them real well because we laid it out for the kids and they listened and followed the plan.”
Even the best lacrosse defense needs strong goaltending, however, and NSA got it from rookie C.J. White. The sophomore stopped 16 of 18 Dolphins shots and Patrick praised him for calmly directing the Saints’ clearing efforts.
Notes: Thursday’s victory was the 100th of Patrick’s varsity career, the first 89 coming at Massachusetts’ Tabor Academy, where he will return for next school year… Edwards, who missed games earlier this season because of a concussion, was laid out again Thursday and didn’t return after being helped from the field. Patrick said after the game he didn’t yet know the sophomore’s status for Friday… Todd, who’s recovering from groin surgery, has begun conditioning work and Patrick said it’s not out of the question he could play next weekend if the Saints advance to a state semifinal game… NSA’s opponent for a home state quarterfinal game next Wednesday should be either Norfolk Collegiate or Hampton Roads Academy, both conference foes whom the Saints routed earlier this season.