Groeninger and Pollard Lead St. Margaret’s over Woodlands (TX)

The St. Margaret’s boys’ lacrosse team defeated The Woodlands (TX), the defending Texas state champions, 12-10 on Saturday in a showdown between two regional powers on the Tartans home turf.  St. Margaret’s entered the game as the No. 8 team in the West (Under Armour/IL rankings).  The Woodlands Highlanders are no. 9 in the Southeast.

The Highlanders learned first hand that the Tartans are very difficult when Stuart Pollard (17/22) and Kevin Groeninger (6 goals) bring their A games. Both seniors were instrumental in two Tartan five-goal runs that proved to be decisive.

The game started out with the Highlanders controlling the pace and jumping out to a 2-0 lead while spending much of their time on the offensive end of the field.  Zane Handy (15 saves) had a busy 12 minutes and came up with several big saves that kept the Tartans close.

It’s not easy to keep St. Margaret’s down for very long, and Koa Todd (1g, 2a) and Groeninger took some of the pressure off of Handy with late goals that drew the game to a 2-2 tie at the end of the first quarter.

The two teams continued to duke it out through most of the second quarter with neither team scoring until Langston Sholl got a Tartan party started with a long pole goal at about the four-minute mark. Within about a minute Groeninger and Nate Sanchez (3g, 1a) added two more.  By the time the dust settled Tartans led 5-2 and soon after settled into a 6-4 halftime lead.

Similar to the first half, the Highlanders seemed to have the advantage early and drew as close as 7-6 before another five-goal run put the Tartans in the driver’s seat at 12-6. The highlight of that spurt came when John Culley (1g, 2a) quick-sticked a cross-crease pass into the net after some impressive Tartans ball movement.

The Woodlands closed the game with four unanswered goals but it was too little, too late.

St. Margaret’s (2-0) puts their regional ranking on the line Tuesday when they host LA power Harvard-Westlake.  The Woodlands continue their So Cal trip with games against Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon, no. 1 and no. 4 in the West respectively.