When the passes weren’t connecting around the net, the Cardinal Gibbons boys lacrosse team stayed with it.
Slowly, their persistence paid off in the form of a goal just as the first quarter was 11 seconds from closing.
The same scenario played in the second quarter, as the Crusaders found the net with just 15 ticks remaining on the clock. And for their unceasing efforts, things started going their way earlier and more often as they used a huge second half to defeat visiting Apex 10-6 Tuesday night.
“We really came together like we’ve done in the past,” Ben Huger said. “I think we had jitters at first, with it being the first game.”
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The game was the conference and season opener for both squads, who in the past have been nonconference rivals.
Gibbons’ shift from Conference 3 to Conference 2 gives the game – which Apex led 4-3 at half – even more significance.
But the Crusaders (1-0) said they approached it the same.
“We still come out with the same intensity and the same common goal,” said senior Connor Prevost. “It’s always been a head-to-head with two of the best teams in the state.”
The break out was helped by Prevost’s four goals – all in the second half.
Ben Huger, a VMI recruit, had four assists and one goal.
“All the guys were moving and setting picks for each other. Everyone was just finding spots and getting open,” said Huger.
Also stepping up for Gibbons was goalie Pete Shammas, whose eight saves had a lot to do with Apex’s shortage of second-half goals.
“He works hard during the offseason, and he prepared really well,” said Gibbons coach Mike Curatolo.
Apex (0-1) coach John Hayden said his team may have worn down as the game went along.
“We’re not in the kind of condition that you need to be to last in a game like this. We were kind of aware of that,” Hayden said. “You could see a couple of the guys getting a little tired in a couple of those defensive stands when it looked like (Gibbons) had guys more open than should be. And these guys bury it.”
Although the game did have its usual pomp and circumstance – the rivals have always met for a Saturday varsity doubleheader, with tailgating events – it could mean more given the two are now in the same league. And both sides said the intensity and level of play was unchanged from a year ago.
“I’m proud of the way our guys came out and hustled, but I’m also proud of the way Apex played,” Curatolo said. “That’s a top-flight team over there.”