CREVE COEUR — Chaminade senior Drew Altic and junior Joe Cavanaugh are affectionately known by teammates as the two-headed monster.
For opponents, winning a faceoff against an actual monster may be easier.
Altic and Cavanaugh combined to win 17 of 19 faceoffs, granting Chaminade a huge advantage in possession time and junior CJ Kolmer scored a career-high four goals to power the Red Devils to a 12-6 victory over John Burroughs in an MSLA state quarterfinal Friday at Chaminade.
Chaminade (9-3) won its fifth consecutive game and will face MICDS (15-3) in a state semifinal on Tuesday. Chaminade defeated MICDS 10-9 on May 7.
Altic, who ranks fourth in the area winning 73.6 percent of his faceoffs, went 7-for-7 in the first half against John Burroughs by quickly scooping the ball himself, by passing it between his own legs to a teammate or by wresting it away from his opponent after a long scrum.
“We have lots of different plays we use (on faceoffs) to keep our opponents off guard,” Altic said. “It takes hours and hours of work. Some people have it in them to do that grind and others don’t.”
Despite a vast possession time advantage, Chaminade led only 3-2 late in the first half as a strong defense, led by senior Xavier Silva, and excellent goaltending by senior Graham Brown, kept John Burroughs in the game.
“They are a great team and well-organized, so it took a long time to get to them,” Chaminade coach Jason Seidel said. “I felt like we should have had more of a lead, but we just had to stick to our game plan and persevere even though it wasn’t coming easy.”
That perseverance paid off with three goals in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Pat Divis started the rally with a forced turnover in the midfield and senior Charlie Reed finished the possession with a dynamic goal, running away from the net, jumping and firing a strike that resembled a Derek Jeter jump-throw from deep in the hole at shortstop.
Altic won the ensuing faceoff and Kolmer capitalized by netting his third goal of the half, finding room through the normally impenetrable center of the John Burroughs defense.
Cavanaugh took the next faceoff, won it cleanly, accepted an excellent return feed from Josh Steinbuhl and scored to cap off a three-goal blitz in 1 minute 6 seconds to stake John Burroughs to a 6-2 halftime lead.
“(Faceoffs) are almost more of a chess match than anything else,” said Cavanaugh who ranks third in the area with a 76 percent success rate. “You have to have skills, you have to have fast hands, but there are also two other guys trying to kill you on that faceoff. So the second you win it forward or back, it’s what you do next that matters.”
Cavanaugh, who had scored only one goal during the regular season, scored twice on Friday. His fourth quarter goal came just six seconds after winning a faceoff.
“I don’t know what came into me today. I joked before the game that I was going to get two or three on the board, maybe one with each stick,” Cavanaugh said.
John Burroughs (10-5) top scorer Bennett Miller cashed in three times early in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 7-5, and with Silva shadowing Chaminade leading scorer Bryce Sullivan, the Red Devils needed to find offense from other players.
Kolmer, who entered the game with eight career goals, continued his career night. He drove near the goal crease, stood on his toes to avoid entering it and lofted a change-up that found the back of the net with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
It was his fourth goal and gave Chaminade the breathing room it needed.
“All of our goals came from everybody playing their role,” Kolmer said. “We were cutting off ball and that got us a lot of open shots. Our chemistry was great.”
Seidel attributed Kolmer’s career night to something he noticed the night before.
“Last night, we had a youth game out here. When I left, all the varsity was gone and (Kolmer) was shooting on that goal for an hour after practice,” Seidel said. “Hard work pays off.”
Kolmer joined Johnny Schlattman, Charlie Reed, Tyler Imo and John Nicpon as non-traditional goal scorers who found the net for Chaminade on Friday.
“Going into the game, we knew faceoffs would be a big thing and we would probably have a lot of time on the defensive side, but being on defense that long eventually catches up to you,” John Burroughs coach Brandon Singleton said.
Chaminade enters its semifinal rematch with MICDS on Tuesday with confidence, having snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Rams on May 7.
“That win showed that that we want it,” Kolmer said. “This team is special.”