On the ice, Jack Slater proved a natural goal scorer, showcasing an easy flair for putting the puck in the net. The Gonzaga senior was named All-Met Hockey Player of the Year after leading his team to the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League title with 33 goals and 21 assists.
But that smooth offensive game never translated easily to the lacrosse field. Slater started that sport as a midfielder with a knack for scooping ground balls and an inconsistent shot. By the time he entered sixth grade, his club coach prescribed a switch to defense.
“I didn’t like getting whacked too much, to be honest,” Slater said. “I figured I might as well do the whacking.”
The move has long since paid impressive dividends for the four-year varsity defenseman headed to Bucknell, but in Tuesday’s 7-2 nonleague win over No. 2 Landon in the District, Slater again showed he’s found the perfect fit for his talents. He helped the top-ranked Eagles hold the Bears without a goal for the final 30 minutes 15 seconds in a comfortable victory.
Gonzaga beat Landon for the second straight year and has won 30 straight games against area opponents since falling to the Bears, 7-5, on April 26, 2011.
The Eagles came through with one of their best defensive performances to extend the streak, though Coach Casey O’Neill has plenty of quality showings to pick from with a team that has allowed less than six goals per game.
“I’d put this one right up there,” O’Neill said. “Any time you hold a team that can score like this with all these great players to two goals, that’s pretty special.”
The Eagles (10-2) never trailed against Landon thanks to an offense paced by senior Alex Corboy’s three goals, but the lock-down man-to-man defensive effort allowed them to shake the Bethesda power after halftime.
For Slater, the victory was particularly satisfying because his hockey team fell to Landon this winter. The 5-foot-11 defenseman mirrored Landon’s leading scorer Sean O’Brien for much of the game, and a unit that also includes brothers Matt and Michael Borda allowed few chances.
Landon (5-5) pulled within 3-2 on junior Zachary Buller’s goal midway through the second quarter, but that would be the Bears’ final tally. In the third quarter, they went nearly 11 minutes before mustering their first shot attempt, and Gonzaga senior goalie Timmy Farrell made all four of his saves in the second half.
“No adjustments,” said Slater, who has never scored a goal in his Gonzaga lacrosse career. “We knew what we had to do from the start, and we just did it. We’re a well-coached defense, and the plan just worked out.”