“I’ve got my right groin, my left hamstring and both calves,” Strabo said, patting each tender spot in succession. “Towards the end of the game I was not moving very well. I was in a lot of pain, but I tried to fight through it because I knew what I had to do.”
Landon (8-5, 2-1) planned all week to slow Armstrong, a North Carolina recruit who will represent the U.S. at this summer’s Under-19 World Championships in Finland.
Strabo, a close defenseman, practiced as a long-stick midfielder so he could mark Armstrong. Seniors Hank Brown and Peter Laco simulated Armstrong in practice so Strabo could get used to Armstrong’s physical dodging style.
Armstrong did pace St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (10-3, 1-2) with three goals, but Landon made him work for his offense as he attempted 14 shots.
“We didn’t have anybody back there except Strabo who was physically strong enough” to match up with Armstrong, Coach Rob Bordley said. “He’s one of our captains, and he just plays hard.”
Landon kept the Saints scoreless until Armstrong’s goal with 2 minutes 20 seconds left in the third quarter made it 5-1. The Bears had a five-goal lead late before the home team exploded for three goals in the game’s final 31 seconds.
Brown and senior Matt Potolicchio had two goals apiece to pace Landon and Ohio State-bound senior Charlie Schnider added a behind-the-back goal and two assists. Senior goalie Alex Joyce made nine saves, including three tough stops in the first quarter with the game still scoreless.
But it was Strabo, the team’s lone returning starter at defender, who emerged as the game’s biggest hero.
He guzzled a sports drink on the sideline in the closing minutes trying to shake his cramps and said he looked forward to a lengthy ice bath Friday night.
“We came in with a pretty serious game plan in place,” Strabo said. “We knew what we needed to do, and I think we came through pretty well.”