ST. JAMES — ST. JAMES — The Saint James boys lacrosse team faced something it hadn’t seen yet this season — a zone defense played by Mid-Atlantic Conference foe St. Andrews — and beat it with unselfish teamwork.
Nine players scored at least one goal as the Saints spread the ball and found enough holes in St. Andrews’ defense to earn an 11-7 victory on a chilly Tuesday evening.
Connor Abeles had two goals and an assist, Austin Fahey also had two goals and Kyle Neale and Jacob Thompson had a goal and two assists each to lead Saint James (4-2, 1-0).
“It’s the first time we’ve seen a zone this season, and I told the guys we had to play it like a man-up situation, move the ball around and look for the open guy inside,” Saints coach Steve Lachut said. “You can’t be selfish and beat a zone, you just can’t.
“We’re truly a balanced team. Kyle is our best player, but he does a great job distributing the ball, too. We had two guys score their first goals today. We have six midfielders we can go to, so we just roll guys through.”
Saint James scored four goals in the final four minutes of the first quarter to take a 5-1 lead. The Saints cut down on their turnovers in that stretch and passed the ball quickly around the perimeter to open up the Lions’ defense.
Neale started the run by finding Fahey in close behind the left post. Fahey ran in front and scored with 3:56 to play to give Saint James the lead for good at 2-1.
With 3:09 left, Thompson made a diagonal pass to Fahey near the left post, and he converted again for a 3-1 lead.
Just 17 seconds later, with a man advantage, Max Brady found Bobby Novak in the middle and his unorthodox shot — resembling a backhand — found the net to make it 4-1.
Abeles’ long shot from the right side found the mark with 16 seconds left in the quarter to cap the run.
After Ethan Lockshin opened the second-half scoring by capitalizing on a turnover by Saints goalie Will Smith right in front of goal to bring St. Andrews (3-2, 0-1) within 6-4 with 8:59 left in the third quarter, Saint James answered with two goals in 43 seconds to take an 8-4 lead.
In transition, Thompson found Graham Poole all alone in front of the goal for a score and a 7-4 lead with 7:53 left. Abeles then found Leighton Younger inside for a goal with 7:10 left.
Brady scored by kicking in a loose ball right in front of St. Andrews’ goal at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Saints a 9-5 lead. The Lions got within three goals twice in the fourth quarter, but Justin Pank answered the first goal and Thompson answered the second.
Saint James dominated faceoffs, winning 18 of the 21 contested. Pank won most of them, with Neale also helping out.
“Justin is the prototypical faceoff guy, he’s strong and aggressive,” Lachut said. “Wrestlers make great faceoff guys, and he takes pride in it.”
Novak and Brady each had a goal and an assist for the Saints. Smith finished with seven saves.
Lockshin scored twice for St. Andrews. Bobby Banks, Will Duvall, Sean Hess, Ryan Brown and Aidan Wallace had the Lions’ other goals.