EASTON — It can be methodical, patiently snapping tight-rope passes around the perimeter before someone decides they have a green light and can charge in on goal.
It can play in fire-drill-like fashion, winning the draw control then zipping pinpoint passes downfield as if connecting the dots until the ball is in the back of the net.
But perhaps the greatest quality Saints Peter and Paul High’s girls’ lacrosse team is showing on its current roll is an ability to play with confidence in all phases of the game. The Sabres crafted yet another dominant display Monday afternoon, as Hattie Messick and Morgan Quade each scored five goals in a 22-2 victory over Gunston in an Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference game.
“We’re more confident, stronger and faster,” head coach Alison Beyer said after Sts. Peter & Paul improved to 6-1 overall, 3-0 ESIAC. “And we’re becoming stronger and more confident and faster. And it’s showing.”
It showed again on this cool, sunny spring afternoon, as the Sabres built a commanding 8-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game, and expanded that margin to 13-0 by halftime.
And while it’s been overshadowed by the avalanche of goals the offense has produced — 68 in its last three games — Sts. Peter & Paul’s defense once again limited an opponent to few chances. Julia McClary put the Herons’ first shot on net 6:45 into the game. Gunston’s next shot on Sabres goalie Katie Bryan (three saves) wouldn’t come until 8 minutes remained in the half, compliments of Jenna Frederick.
“Not only is the defense not letting (opponents) get by them, but the transition …. the defense is getting it quickly back down to the other end of the field,” Beyer said of a group that includes Leila Robinson, Caroline Talucci, Amanda McKinnon, Quinn Turner, Ashely Reinoehl and Morgan Earls. “I mean the passes are beautiful. It’s just like boom, boom, boom. The transition is just so pretty to watch.”
That transition defense led to a number of fastbreak rushes for the Sabres, who opened the game with a patient scheme, throwing four, five and six passes around the perimeter before a cutter was found, or whoever was possessing the ball headed toward the goal.
“I told them to just settle it,” Beyer said. “Just be more patient. Take some time. Get the ball down the field. Not rush. We have all the time in the world. And they did. And they listened. And it showed.”
Emmary Sweeney (two goals, five assists) opened the Sabres’ scoring 1:34 into the game, when she converted a feed from Messick (four assists). Five seconds later, senior Joy Perry (four goals, four assists) scored off an assist from Evelyn Murphy (three goals, five assists). Less than 2 minutes later, Messick netted her first score via a Perry dish.
Gunston goalie Kate Campbell made a number of strong saves in the first half, including a point-blank stop in the sixth minute. But the Sabres continued passing and cutting in from all angles while padding their lead.
Quade (three assists) scored on a pass from Murphy with 9 minutes remaining on the game’s running clock. The Herons avoided the shutout, when Bella Adams scored on a free-position opportunity with 7:34 left, then scooped a ground ball, raced down field and bounced a shot past Bryan with 5:50 left.
Sts. Peter & Paul got yet another brilliant effort from Caroline McKelvy, who won a season-high 19 draw controls to go with her one goal and three assists. The Sabres also got scoring from Daria Wilson (goal, two assists), Darby Thomas (three assists), Sarah Krocheski (goal), Robinson (assist), Earls (assist) and Reinoehl (assist).