SMITHSBURG — The Smithsburg boys lacrosse team gave Thomas Johnson a bit of an anatomy lesson on Thursday.
Dylan Layman kept his eyes opened, Cullan Ganley showed some heart and the Leopards presented a body of work at the end to come away with a hard-fought 10-6 victory over the Patriots.
“We played a partial game,” Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich said. “We ran off and on, but came up big in the end. The talent showed through.”
Layman showed his talent in goal while Ganley scored four times — the last coming on a critical goal with 1:16 remaining — to move Smithsburg to 5-1 on the season. Add to it Luke Slick’s work in the midfield and the Leopards had a strong, albeit uneven, performance.
Thomas Johnson’s Max Hart scored the game’s first goal before Layman settled in and took control of the crease. He made a number of point-blank saves as the Leopards scored the next four goals, and then spent the evening making big stops to protect the lead.
“We practice that every day,” Layman said. “You just have to see it and react. They were coming at me a lot, but I just had to keep my eyes opened.”
Layman asserted himself the most when Smithsburg went into a lull and allowed the Patriots’ aggressiveness to control the game. But TJ failed to get an advantage the rest of the game.
“He’s your story,” Dietrich said, pointing to Layman. “He did a tremendous job. He is a great athlete and we were hoping for him to come up big for us. He made some point-blank saves.”
Kevin Grimm tied the score followed by two goals by Dillan Harbaugh and Ganley’s first to give the Leopards a 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The two teams traded goals in the second period as Andrew Warburton and Hart were matched by two by Ganley — the second coming with 30 seconds remaining in the half — to give Smithsburg a 6-3 lead at the half.
Slick scored in the third period as Smithsburg tried to protect a 7-5 lead amid TJ’s mounting pressure.
Harbaugh and Hart traded goals to put the score at 8-6, forcing Dietrich to call a timeout with 3:34 remaining. With 90 seconds remaining, Ganley came out with the ball after a midfield scramble and ran untouched down the middle to unload a goal to put the Leopards out of reach.
“I got the ball from them and went on the attack,” Ganley said. “Coach said something at the timeout and everyone got fired up.”
Dietrich was more specific.
“I told (Ganley) he had to take control of the game,” he said.
Ganley came through and Grimm iced it with another goal just eight seconds later to finish off the win.
And despite it all, it was a game that made a statement for the Leopards, maybe in the form of some redemption.
“They have killed us the last two times in a row,” Dietrich said. “We got it done today. ... I think it shows we have a damn good team.”