LAFAYETTE — In the modern age of specialists in sports — from left handed relievers in baseball to liberos in volleyball — perhaps no one is more instrumental to flow/outcome of the game than the lacrosse face-off man.
It's an art form that the good ones work at tirelessly and the even better ones end up going to a Division 1 school.
Kyle Sudol is Dawson's main man and the junior has been nothing short of diligent in his perfection of the craft.
On Tuesday in the Mustangs' 17-2 opening round Class 4A playoff victory over Englewood, he was victorious 14 of the 16 times he performed in a face-off and allowed his team to jump out to a quick lead against the underdog Pirates.
"He's a special player and he works really, really hard at his craft and he has been doing that a lot the whole season," said Dawson coach Peter Devlin. "Kyle is so well versed in his craft that I ask him for drills, and he is so good at teaching the younger guys, too."
Said Sudol, who has seen just about every opponents trick in the book to try and beat him: "I've put a lot of work into this and worked hard to make sure that doesn't happen. There is a bunch of counters I know, but it is like a chess match and you've just got to make the right moves."
The top-seeded Mustangs (15-1) will host No. 8 St. Mary's in the quarterfinals later this week. Those Pirates eliminated Thompson Valley 8-3 on Tuesday night in Colorado Springs.
A good quick start was imperative against a team in Englewood that would have liked nothing more than to surprise them.
Sudol was unstoppable early on and he and the Mustangs had possession for all of the first quarter.
Just four minutes into the game, Dawson was already up 3-0 on two goals by Jack Shams and another by Gavyn Pure, who drew rave reviews from Englewood coach Matt Thomas in a classy postgame speech to both teams at midfield.
Dawson would eventually put up eight goals in the first period with five different goals scorers.
"We came out focused and sharp and both offense and defense was playing well," Devlin said. "It was good that we were able to get up early so that we were able to get our second string guys in and make sure they get a lot of playing time."
The majority of the starters got to cheer on their teammates from the sideline in the second half. Dawson invoked the mercy-rule (running clock; a 12 goal lead) with the first goal of the second half just nine second after the break.
Shams, Pure and Gray Hill all had three goals for Dawson and both Jesse Rosenblatt and Wyatt Watts each added two.
(1) Dawson School 17, (16) Englewood 2
At Dawson SchoolEnglewood (10-5) 0 1 0 1 — 2
Dawson School (15-1) 8 4 4 1 — 17
Goals — Englewood: Travis Hastings, Braxton Black; Dawson School: Jack Shams 3, Gavyn Pure 3, Gray Hill 3, Jesse Rosenblatt 2, Wyatt Watts 2, Mac Zee, Taylor Kamigaki, Cash Vandiver, Will Pelton.
Assists — Englewood: Joe Hall; Dawson School: J. Rosenblatt 4, Pure 3, W. Rosenblatt 2, Tyler Gardner, Jonathon Gruener.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Englewood: Robert Boucher (48-17-7); Dawson School: Chad Dunnell (43-2-3), Colin Peterson (5-0-1).