The final two games of the season will make or break the No. 7 Loyola lacrosse team's chances of qualifying for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.
After losing to Gilman, 13-10, on Tuesday afternoon in Roland Park, the No. 7 Dons (10-6, 3-4 league) go from frustration to desperation and must upset unbeaten and No. 1 Boys' Latin on Friday too earn a postseason bid.
The No. 4 Greyhounds, on the other hand, are on a pace to grab a first-round bye and the second seed in the playoffs if they can knock off the two teams ranked above them, No. 2 St. Paul's on Friday and No. 3 McDonogh on May 7.
That will be no easy task, although Gilman (11-2, 6-1) is playing at a very high level while enjoying contributions from a starters and a slew of substitutes alike.
In rolling to a 12-5 advantage early in the fourth quarter before Loyola scored five of the game's final six goals, including three in a row by sophomore attackman Alex Roesner, the Greyhounds' offense became multi-dimensional.
"We were very patient, and that led to a lot of good possessions for us," Gilman coach Brooks Matthews said. "We like to play a lot of guys. It makes us more difficult to defend."
By halftime, with the Greyhounds comfortably ahead, 8-3, only one Gilman player — senior attackman Max Greene — scored more than once. Senior attackmen Chris Walsch and Zeke Morrill, junior midfielders Andrew Gemma, William McBride and Peter Brown and junior attackman Chase Wittich all had single goals by the intermission.
Goals by Villanova-bound Devin McNamara and one by fellow senior attackman Kevin Jackson rallied the Dons to just an 8-5 deficit with 11 minutes left in the third period before Brown, Walsch, McBride and Wittich retaliated with a 4-0 run to restore order.
That's when Loyola closed with a strong push to make the score more respectable.
It could have been even closer if senior goalie Thomas McBride's backup, junior Fitz Lee, had not recorded four saves in the final six minutes.
But that's the kind of day it was for a Gilman squad that Loyola coach Jack Crawford praised for being "well balanced."
Considering the second midfield line of Gemma, William McBride and Brown accounted for five goals and as many assists, it's easy to understand what problems rival defenses have when they confront the Greyhounds.
"Things are starting to click for us," Gemma said. "Different guys are stepping up on different days."
It was much the same in the goal, according to Thomas McBride.
"It's great to have Fitz as a backup," said McBride, who will play lacrosse at Gettysburg next season. "He keeps me on my toes in practice all the time."
Goals: L-McNamara 2, Jackson 2, Roesner 4, Llewellyn 1, Nordbrook 1
G-Brown 2, Wittich 2, Morrill 1, W. McBride 2, Greene 2, Walsch 2, Hutchins 1, Gemma 1
Assists: L-McNamara 2, Jackson 1, Llewellyn 1, Conrad 1, Cole 1
G-Brown 1, W. McBride 1, Greene 1, Walsch 2, Gemma 3
Saves: L-Newton 10, Juzwiak 1 G-T. McBride 6, Lee 4
Half: 8-3, GCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun