The Paul VI boys’ lacrosse team asserted its place as an early contender in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference with a 7-5 nonleague victory at perennial IAC power Georgetown Prep last week, but the Panthers head into the meat of their schedule without their top player, senior long stick midfielder Ethan Powley.

Powley, a Duke recruit, broke his jaw in two places against the Little Hoyas, taking an errant stick to the face in a second-quarter collision that did not draw a foul call. First-year Coach Bob Waters called the injury “a freak accident” and added the damage might have been worse if the player hadn’t been outfitted with a custom mouth guard.

Waters, a former Chantilly assistant who took over at the Fairfax private school last June, said the 6-foot-2, 195-pound captain had surgery to wire his jaw shut late last week. Powley is expected to miss five to six weeks, and the coach hopes to have him back in the lineup for the playoffs.

“I’ve never seen a young man work as hard as he did this summer, and it paid off for him,” Coach Bob Waters said. “He was just a man amongst boys in our first two games. … We think he could play for Duke this year. He’s that good.”

Paul VI has had to move forward without Powley, an honorable mention All-Met pick in 2012. He provided a lock-down presence on the defensive end and added an offensive threat in transition.

The Panthers still have plenty of talented players left to work with, notably seniors Nick Carpenter (Georgetown) and Connor Murphy (Rutgers). Waters said seniors Jack McGuire and Connor Jahelka and sophomore Troy Jahelka have pitched in to fill Powley’s role. The team has won all three games without Powley to improve to 5-0 for the season.

“You’re not going to do it with one guy,” Waters said. “He’s just too much of a force.”

Last summer, Powley participated in the Warrior 40 camp, an elite event in Colorado that also featured Bullis All-Met defender Nick Fields (Johns Hopkins) and Stone Bridge attackman Dylan Maltz (Syracuse).

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