With Woodberry Forest sitting outside of the playoff field at 11th place in the fifth VISAA Division 1 poll and St. Anne’s-Belfield resting at seventh place, there was a lot invested in the annual clash between the two longtime rivals on Friday. For the better part of three quarters and change it was a hotly-contested back-and-forth with big changes in momentum. But the last push belonged to the visiting Saints. As such they were able to blank the Tigers in the fourth and score five answered to walk away with a coveted 9-6 victory to help further their postseason cause.
“We needed a strong fourth quarter because Woodberry came out in that third and put themselves in a nice position,” said STAB coach Bo Perriello. “I thought in the fourth we really responded well.”
With things locked up at 2-2 deep into the second quarter, the first big swing came from the Saints. Out of a pair of timeouts the Saints got a pair of goals from on a pair of spin moves in front of the net from Pierre Reeves that were separated by just 36 seconds. That sent the Saints into the break at halftime up 4-2.
“It was hot out there today so we talked about how the timeouts would be valuable,” Perriello said. “I think catching our breath sharpened us up and we were fortunate to be able to get ahead before the half.”
With the Saints getting a goal off the draw to start the third on a shot from Trent Moran, the Tigers had their work cut out for them down 5-2. Woodberry responded with a goal just six seconds later when long pole faceoff specialist Ian Weinberg burst downfield after a win and buried a shot to make it 5-3.
“He was our MVP last year winning 68 percent of over 400 faceoffs,” said Woodberry coach Spotty Robins. “He’s grown a ton from when he started as a sophomore. He makes great decisions on the break, has worked really well on ball security after the draw. He means everything to this team and we’d be in big trouble without him.”
It was the first of four straight from the Tigers with Coleman Bishop, Greg Hathaway and Mack Daniels all connecting on shots in an eight minute run to make ti 6-5 for the hosts.
“We didn’t make a lot of adjustments there, we just finally decided to turn it up,” Robbins said. “At certain points of the year we’ve really put it together emotionally and made some runs. But the struggle this year has been finding the consistency and sustaining that pace.”
STAB was able to equalize things in the second minute of the fourth with Reeves scoring on a tangled mess in front of the net. Just 56 seconds later the Saints took the lead for good with Michael McGraw scoring on a bang-bang play from Emmett Barger. The two connected again on almost the exact same play with 8:32 to play to give St. Anne’s some breathing room.
“We came out in the fourth quarter and put everything that we had together,” McGraw said. “I’ve been playing with Emmett and all these guys for a while. Those goals, I think we really showed what kind of connection we have out there today.”
With 7:57 left, it was Barger’s turn and his goal helped to make it 9-6. From there, the Saints went to work on the clock, but did so facing a trio of penalties. Woodberry was unable to capitalize though and STAB’s lead went untouched the rest of the way.
McGraw and Reeves each finished with hat tricks for STAB. Moran added a pair of goals. Jeffrey Perkins finished with seven saves in goal.
Daniels paced the way for the Tigers with his three goals and assist. Wyatt Martin had six saves in net.
STAB faces Collegiate — a team ranked just one spot ahead of them in the rankings — on Tuesday. Woodberry has a busy finish to its regular season with Flint Hill on Saturday, St. Christopher’s on Tuesday and finally Albemarle on Thursday.