Blue Ridge boys lacrosse took a few minutes to get things going in the right directionTuesday afternoon.
But when the Barons saw one go in the net, it turned into a flood.
“We’ve been pretty inconsistent throughout games (this year) but when one guy gets going, we all come together and play pretty well,” said Blue Ridge’s Brayden Ragland.
Blue Ridge, the No. 6-ranked team in VISAA’s Division I, rode a strong defensive performance, an impressive effort on faceoffs and a balanced offensive outing to a 15-7 victory over No. 4 St. Anne’s-Belfield.
Ragland spearheaded a 14-8 advantage at the faceoff x on the day, coming up with some critical wins for the Barons in key moments.
“I just got my wings involved, Carson Hoewe and Jack Miller, they were doing great for me,” Ragland said. “And it was just momentum, my team was feeling it so I was feeling it too.”
Brody Burrell made 15 saves in the cage for the Barons, flipping the switch after a slow start once the Barons’ offense built a 6-2 lead late in the first quarter that STAB cut into with a buzzer-beating goal at the end of that frame. While the Barons’ faceoff unit and offense has been largely locked in, the defense has been lagging a touch behind them. But on Tuesday, they were able to clamp down on a STAB offense that likes to attack from close range.
“The guys played really well in close, our defense really did a great job locking off the hands,” Burrell said.
Meanwhile, five different Barons scored two goals each. Ace Nichols, Zack Toll, Kolbe Haug, Kayle Ryan and Collin Cest notched a pair each and Toll added two assists while Nichols and Haug each had assists.
The Barons scored in a wide variety of ways, finishing off extra man opportunities, creating turnovers off the ride, one of which immediately led to a fastbreak goal by Toll and a longstick goal by Cam Whelans. Whelans’ goal really seemed to shift the energy back to the Barons and kickstarted a three goal run to finish the first half and give Blue Ridge a 9-5 lead at the break. The Barons even scored directly off the faceoff with Ragland finishing off a solo effort. Blue Ridge was opportunistic throughout and made STAB pay for seemingly every miscue.
“I love it, we’re coming up on states we want to get these last two wins (against STAB and then Collegiate coming up Friday), that would be huge for us and put us in a good spot for states,” Burrell said.
The Saints made a short push to get back into the game early in the second quarter and cut the Blue Ridge lead to 6-5, but STAB couldn’t get over the hump and take a lead as the Barons kept making play after play. Tyler Parlee, Peyton Booth and West Martin each finished with two goals for the Saints.
The Barons have now reeled off three straight wins after dropping an 11-9 game with North Cross on February 14th. They’ll face Collegiate Friday in another critical chance to make their case for postseason seeding. The Saints will get several opportunities to make a similar statement with Norfolk Academy, Woodberry Forest, Christchurch and Collegiate still on the schedule in the coming weeks as the regular season draws to a close. The Saints host Norfolk Academy Saturday at 1 p.m.