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This is Day 2 of my coverage of Carmel. On Friday, April 19 Carmel played defending Indiana State Champion Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) and lost a tight one 6-5.
Now they go up against the St. Xavier Tigers, the defending Kentucky State Champions and currently ranked No. 5 team in the Midwest by Inside Lacrosse (of which I am a contributor). I said I was familiar with HSE the night before, I am also very familiar with St X. This team is tough to beat. They are strong offensively, reliable defensively, and excellent at the goaltending position.
Goalie Joe Storner is a past LaxRecords Player of the Game recipient. He shut down a potent New Trier offense a couple weeks back and was excellent against the No. 1 team in the country Culver Academy (Ind.). I knew Carmel was going to have a battle on its hands. The current theme of horrible weather I have sat through the last month and a half continued at this game, constant rain and wind, I'm sure it will get better, right?
Coming into this game, I wanted to see how Carmel rebounded from a tough loss the evening before. I can say Carmel didn't go into this game down, it had a pep in its step. St. Xavier came after Carmel quick, but Carmel’s goaltender Nick Tomalia rebuffed their early efforts.
Ultimately St. Xavier would break through with a goal by Will Hubbs. Hubbs is an imposing 6-4 attackman who can move. He's a threat dodging, passing and shooting and a player I enjoy watching.
Carmel answered with a goal by Erik Allen. Now it was St. Xavier goalie Storner who started to play like the guy I've seen. He made a few great saves early. Two goals back-to-back by St. Xavier attack Colin Lococo made the score 3-1 then Storner did his thing to end the first quarter with St. X leading 3-1.
Starting the second quarter was no different as Storner was back at it. Finally, Tommy Spaetz solved Storner to make it 3-2 St Xavier. The one-goal difference didn't last long as Noah Malubay scored to make it 4-2.
Carmel has been plagued by unforced errors, and that continued in this game. You can’t give a team with St. X’s talent extra chances as they are bound to make you pay.
The Tigers came at Carmel with three-straight goals. Hubbs’ second, his brother Ben Hubbs added one, and Lococo got a first-half hat trick.
Spraetz halted the St. Xavier scoring run with his second goal to take make the scored 7-3 after halftime.
Carmel started the second half with goalie Joe Gollmer who immediately made two big saves leading to a Carmel goal by Marcus Prine. The shift in momentum didn't last long as the Tigers came back on a goal from Patrick Anderson.
Anderson is another 6-foot-4 player, and a smooth-moving middie with nifty hands who likes passing first. Make no mistake though, Anderson can take over a game. He will be heading to Towson this fall.
Later in the third quarter, Hubbs put St. Xavier up 9-4 at the end of the third. Anderson picked up his second goal of the game to start the fourth and increased the St. Xavier lead 10-4.
Showing no quit was Carmel’s Prine with an intense ride on Storner and forced a turnover that led to his second goal of the day. St. Xavier came right back with Hubbs picking up his third of the game. Nick George added one more for Carmel, which despite trailing, showed no quit. With the game coming to its conclusion Lococo added his fourth goal to end the game and earn LaxRecords player of the game.
St. Xavier played as I expected, their stars did their thing. Hubbs, Hubbs, Anderson, and Storner did not disappoint, and a new scoring threat emerged in Lococo. Hillis Burns didn't get on the score sheet in this game, but he’s another threat. St. Xavier looks primed to repeat as Kentucky state champions, and they will be tough to beat the rest of this season.
Carmel has been trying to find their identity and flow this season. At times you see flashes of what makes them scary to play. Other times you see the unforced errors and mistakes that derail any momentum. They have been beaten up with injuries, but hopefully, those players are on the mend. The good news is the score sheet for Carmel in this game. Goals by Allen, Spraetz, Prine, and George. If they can get in sync with each other, plus Mendell and Walker returning to form this team will be hard to defeat.
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