BERLIN — It’s not necessarily helter-skelter, do-whatever-you-want freelancing.
Give a listen to Will Schmidt, Easton High’s boys’ assistant lacrosse coach, and you’ll hear him provide plenty of direction and structure from the sideline.
But Warrior junior attackman Drew Schmidt admits his father allows him and his teammates a lot of leeway when it comes to recognizing and capitalizing on certain situations.
That was evident Monday night at Stephen Decatur High’s Louis H. Taylor Stadium. Drew Schmidt scored a school single-game record eight goals — five during a 9-1 scoring spree over the second and third periods — pacing Easton to its first Bayside Conference championship in program history via a 15-9 victory over the host Seahawks.
“Our coach, he hands us a lot of freedom, so we just make plays,” Drew said of his father. “It’s huge. He always has confidence in me. Even if I make a bad play he knows I’ll bounce back.”
Warrior head coach Dennis Keenan was hoping his offense would bounce back after Saturday’s 5-4 victory over Saints Peter and Paul in the Talbot Lacrosse Association Bull Roast. But Keenan wasn’t too concerned when the Seahawks jumped to a 2-0 lead a little over 3 minutes in Monday on goals from Evan Oglesby and John Fohner.
“They weren’t too happy with Saturday only scoring five goals,” Keenan said of his team’s second lowest scoring effort of the season. “I knew we were pressing a little too hard in that first quarter. Once they settled down, their ball movement was crisp and as the game went on we were taking great shots and sticking them.”
Easton (11-1) needed a little over 3 minutes to rally into the lead. Schmidt broke from behind the cage and got the Warriors on the board just 20 seconds after Fohner’s goal. Aidan Filion set up Hudson Royer’s 25-yard equalizer less than a minute later. Schmidt then took a Royer feed, made a couple stick fakes and dumped the go-ahead goal over the shoulder of Decatur freshman goalie Declan Horan (13 saves) with 5:14 left in the first quarter.
The Seahawks (9-4) answered. Ashton March scored from about 20 yards out to tie the game at 3-all with just over 3 minutes left in the quarter. Fohner then beat Easton goalie Jack Kilbourne (14 saves) with a left-handed shot and 5.4 seconds remaining in the quarter for a 4-3 Decatur lead.
“We came out slow again, but in the second half we just locked in,” Drew Schmidt said.
Make that the second quarter with a pair of one-two punches.
After a sparkling point-blank stop by Horan, Filion gained possession of the ball, cut across the crease and scored to pull Easton even at 4-all. Twenty-two seconds later, Nate Butler picked up a loose ball and snapped it into the net for a 5-4 lead the Warriors steadily padded.
A little less than 2 minute later, Easton stung the Seahawks with a second one-two combo. Schmidt converted a Butler feed for a goal with 8:21 to go in the second quarter. Just 15 seconds after that strike, Royer scooped a ground ball from the faceoff, raced downfield and uncorked a right-handed sidewinder for a 7-4 lead.
Schmidt scored his fourth goal of the half with a shade under 7 minutes left in the first half. Easton long pole Kyle Dyott then sprinted from his own end with a clear that led to Filion’s second goal of the half, capping a 6-0 Easton second quarter.
“Defense played pretty well just getting the ball down there,” said Keenan of Kilbourne and company, who held Decatur scoreless for a 23:40 stretch. “And then the offense took care of business.”
A big key to that offense was Tyler Rardin, who won 22 faceoffs.
“Tyler did a great job with the faceoffs,” Keenan said. “That’s probably his best game of the season.”
Schmidt then began adding to his best scoring game of the season, netting three in the third quarter to finish a 9-0 surge that lengthened Easton’s lead to 12-4 with 3:19 remaining in the period.
“They kept giving me a shorty (short-stick defenseman),” Drew Schmidt said. “A lot of times at x (behind the goal), they would switch a shorty on me and I’m very confident in my ability to take a shorty. And that’s what I did.”
The Seahawks defended Schmidt mostly with a long pole during the April 3 regular-season game at Easton — a 15-8 Warrior victory. And though Schmidt again drew long-pole coverage in this second meeting, he capitalized when Decatur switched to a short-stick defender.
“We were fortunate enough to get some changeups on the matchups,” Will Schmidt said. “I mean they had a (long) pole on him most of the time, but we do a lot of pick, two-man game and he (Drew) was able to get free, get a good matchup and take advantage of it.”
Luke Popielaski finally broke Decatur’s scoring drought with 25.5 seconds left in the third quarter, as the Warriors carried a 12-5 lead into the fourth.
Charlie Kaminskas put Easton up 13-5 1:06 into the fourth. Decatur stirred the home crowd with Popielaski, March and Fohner scoring in succession, shaving the Warriors’ lead to 13-8 with 8:50 remaining.
But Butler and Schmidt scored 2:25 apart, bumping Easton’s lead to 15-8 with 5:11 left.
March completed his hat trick with 4:01 to, but the Seahawks got no closer, as Easton worked the ball around to kill the remaining clock.
“They were real focused,” Keenan said after his team’s 11th straight victory. “That offense just put it away. But we’ve got bigger fish to fry. We want to go to the playoffs strong.”
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