Brendon Richardson was mid-answer during a postgame interview Tuesday, sharing his thoughts on St. John the Baptist’s second straight CHSAA ‘AA’ regular-season title.
He had just scored four goals. Three came in the third quarter, and the last sparked a 21-second, fourth-quarter burst in which his boys lacrosse team scored three times and opened a seven-goal lead in the clinching 15-10 win over St. Dominic.
So as Richardson spoke, two teammates rewarded their second-half star with a surprise. They dumped ice water on him, drenching him and sending the team and its fans into a frenzy.
“That says it all,” Richardson said, flashing a wide smile.
The Cougars (3-0) fell to Iona Prep in last year’s intersectional championship. The memories from that loss fueled this team, which knew winning the regular-season title could help secure a favorable seed in the intersectional bracket and a trip upstate.
They were right about the former, at least. Coach Tom Gilmartin said St. John the Baptist will take a bye into intersectionals as the No. 1 seed.
“This was our main goal coming into the season,” Richardson said. “We wanted to make it a two-peat. To end up doing it, it feels great.”
After St. Dominic’s Jack Pucci (four goals) scored 31 seconds into the game, St. John the Baptist went on an 8-2 run and took an 8-5 lead into halftime. Corey McMahon scored three of his four goals during that stretch.
With a man-down in the first two minutes of the second half, Cougars goalie Jack White (12 saves) made a pair of point-blank stops. Kyle Portera (two goals, two assists) and Richardson followed with goals at the 8:16 and 7:38 marks to open a 10-5 lead.
St. Dominic (1-3), which battled out of a 12-5 hole before falling 14-12 in its first match with St. John the Baptist, cut the gap to 12-8 on Pucci’s goal with 6:36 left in the fourth quarter. Shortly after a timeout, Stephen Becker (two goals, three assists) fed Richardson, who cut down the middle and scored with 3:58 left. McMahon followed 12 seconds later and Becker capped the spurt at the 3:37 mark.
All this to avoid feeling as they did after last year’s intersectionals.
“Honestly, losing does help,” McMahon said. “I think we have more of a chip on our shoulder to come out in big games and pick it up.”