Ice packs already taped to both of his calves, senior Mark Strabo gingerly shuffled away from Friday’s postgame stretching session behind most of his Landon lacrosse teammates. But if it took a little longer for the Princeton recruit to gather his equipment and head to the bus, the rest of the team didn’t mind after his efforts in the No. 6 Bears’ 8-6 Interstate Athletic Conference win at No. 2 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes.
Strabo pushed through a pre-existing groin injury, got drilled in the leg with a third-quarter shot and battled calf cramping down the stretch, but he continued to do an admirable job marking Saints senior Brent Armstrong, one of the area’s most explosive players. That performance set the tone for an at-times dominating defensive effort that sparked the Bears’ fifth consecutive victory.
“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.”