With about four minutes left in Tuesday’s game at DeMatha and his team holding a seven-goal lead, Gonzaga’sTeddy Manders picked up a ground ball in his defensive half and charged toward the Stags’ goal. When no DeMatha player stepped up to stop him, the senior defenseman wound up from about 12 yards out and ripped a vicious right-handed shot.
The attempt clanked off the left post with such force that it skidded out of bounds near midfield.
It was about the only thing that missed on a day when so much went right for Manders and the Eagles’ defense. No. 3 Gonzaga held the Stags scoreless into the fourth quarter and cruised to a 10-2 win against its conference rival.
“I was just trying to shoot it on cage as hard as I could,” Manders said of the shot that almost became his first goal of the season. “I got a little unlucky.”
The visitors seized control early, scoring the game’s first seven goals. By the time, Ryan Belka got the Stags on the board in the first minute of the fourth quarter, the Eagles were already well on their way to their third straight win against DeMatha (2-6, 2-2 WCAC).
“We wanted to come out and beat these guys pretty bad,” said Planning, who will play at Ohio State next season. “It was fun doing it, and we’re just moving on and getting ready for the rest of the year.”
The Eagles earned a comfortable margin of victory thanks to a defense that held DeMatha to a season-low two goals. The group — led by Manders — showcased the form that confounded the high-powered Little Hoyas for more than three quarters on Friday.
Gonzaga allowed the Stags to zip passes around the perimeter but stiffened when the home team tried to force its way inside. Goalie Timmy Farrell faced few challenges thanks to the defense’s efforts but made six saves to earn the win.
Planning called the defense “the heart of our team,” and Gonzaga Coach Casey O’Neill said the way the unit bounced back displayed character.
“I’m proud of those guys,” O’Neill said. “They just kept playing the same way they did most of the game against Prep. I give credit to my defensive coordinator, Jeff King, who puts together a great game plan every time we play a good offense.”