Wednesday night (TOMORROW), Saint Xavier Lacrosse will play its most important game of the season, and this year it’s coming a little earlier than expected. The Tigers will face arch rival Trinity in the state semifinal matchup. For the past 10 years, it seems as though every year it has come down to the two teams in the championship, which is interesting due to the fact that the playoff seeding is completely random. This year, however, the Tigers will need to show out in the semis against the Rocks if they want the chance to play for the State Championship. It’s the most exciting part of the season – win or go home – and the Tigers are ready to win.
Of course the two rivals battled it out in a fun regular season matchup. The Tigers went in the favorite and left the same way, yet the game was nothing short of a challenge. The two teams traded goals the entire game up until the final moments, when a short run put Trinity up by two goals. The Tigers managed to get two goals in the final 45 seconds to push the game to sudden death overtime, where St. X would eventually win on a Leland Gray goal at the buzzer.
This time around, though, there will many changes in the flow of the game. Both teams have had their fair share of bumps and bruises since the regular season game, causing each team change up its system. Fortunately for the Tigers, the only difference should be on defense, where sophomore Paul Porter will be playing in place of senior Owen Peters, who suffered a foot injury just before the Virginia spring break trip.
Trinity has really been hit hard. Senior long-stick midfielder Jeremiah Hemme was hurt for the remainder of the season after breaking his wrist during the previous St. X vs. Trinity matchup. Hemme was a D-1 recruit who was an enforcer on defense while also being a scoring threat, putting two goals past Max Cartor during the regular season match. Senior attackman Austin Graehler will also miss the rest of the season with a broken foot. Graehler scored five goals in the previous game against St. X.
St. X has been the dominant force in the past seven years, and this year should be no different. Porter has stepped in for Owen Peters and played well. He was able to get experience in the trip up to Virginia, and has really become a force on defense. The duo of Coleman Webb and Alex Cherry in the faceoff circle has been straight up dirty. We’re talking about a reigning All-American (Webb) and another senior who’s played just as well or even better at some points in the season.
The biggest thing for me is the injuries on Trinity’s end. The Rocks mustered 9 goals against St. X in what was just about the best game they could have played…and 7 of those 9 goals came from the two players who won’t be in uniform tomorrow. I just don’t see Trinity being able to put two people out there that are as effective as Hemme and Graehler. They already relied on two players to carry the bulk of the team, and now with the two players out, they have no one to turn to.
I’ve been watching every game this season, I’ve played the game for years and I’ve also had inside talks with players. My prediction is St. X wins 12-4. I can’t guarantee that score, but I can tell you that this game will be very different from the one we saw in Marshall Stadium during the regular season. One thing we can’t overlook, Tiger Nation, is that the crowd will play a part in this game; it always has, and it always will. So get out to Br. Thomas More Page Stadium and get rowdy.
Go Tigers! We Are!
Tonight, the Tiger lacrosse team will take on archrival Trinity High School in a highly-touted match up between two of the best teams in the state. Trinity will enter the game 5-3, with their losses coming from three tough out-of-state opponents. The Shamrocks have performed far beyond preseason expectations, and looks to be a great matchup against our own Tigers.
“They are really strong in every area, and their improvement through the year has really shown,” remarked senior St. X goalie Max Cartor. “But we feel confident playing at this field and will be ready to rock and roll come game time.”
To this point in the season, the Tigers and Rocks have played two of the same teams. Both took on Lexington Catholic, where Trinity defeated them 13-3 and St. X won 13-1. Also, both teams hosted Libertyville High School from Illinois. The Rocks narrowly defeated them 11-7, while St. X handled them easily with the final score of 14-7.
The two similar matchups don’t really tell us much about what we could expect Wednesday night, though. All we know is that it will be a good matchup in all areas of the field.
Who should we look out for? Well, senior LSM Jeremiah Hemme has been a strong force on the defensive side of the field, also extending his game to the offense on fast breaks and transitions. Senior Max Stratton has put up buckets of goals as a midfielder for the Rocks. The two pose a threat to our Tigers, but shouldn’t be anything they can’t handle. St. X will also be content to face Trinity without Jackson Lienhart, a senior attackman signed with Bellarmine University who wreaked havoc on St. X as a junior last season. He has since transferred to Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, and therefore will be far away from Marshall Stadium tonight.
Of course for the Tigers, Cartor, attackman Collin Roppel, and junior defenseman Caleb Grimes have been studs on the field this year. Roppel’s offensive command has led the Tigers through multiple big games, while Grimes and Cartor have left offenses frustrated with their lockdown defense.
In the past three years, the Tigers have led the head-to-head matchup, claiming 4 of the 6 meetings between the rivaling teams, with two of the wins coming from State Championship games.
The game is Wednesday night at 7:00 hosted by Trinity. It’s a black out, so let’s get out there, get rowdy, and beat the Weeds!