Let the games begin. The real games, that is. After a long preseason during which the 10 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference squads combined to post a 69-16 record against non-conference foes, the teams are finally ready for the nitty-gritty of a two-game per-week grind of high-caliber lacrosse sure to thrill fans and spectators alike for the next five weeks or so.
The championship game is scheduled to be played at Johnny Unitas Stadium on May 17.
The race for the title begins Tuesday, April 9 with a pair of intriguing openers, featuring McDonogh at Boys' Latin and St. Paul's at defending champion Calvert Hall. Game times are at 4 p.m.
And while it's hardly a surprise that the talented Lakers (11-0) are unbeaten, the equally perfect Crusaders have been turning heads with an early-season 10-game winning streak behind sophomore Carter Flaig and Glenelg junior transfer Mike Wynne boosting a prolific attack.
After all, in 2012 St. Paul's failed to win a conference game for the first time in school history and finished with a 3-15 mark.
On the other hand, many observers felt that BL would be the team to beat this spring, given its depth, skill and experience from top to bottom. With junior attackmen Wells Stanwick and senior sidekick Colin Heacock, senior defenseman Mac Pons and junior midfielders T Moyer and Tally Bruno heading the pack, the Lakers will be tough to beat.
So far, the Lakers have proven worthy of their acclaim, outscoring opponents by a combined, 118-54 against rivals from Florida, Canada, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Their last victim, Conestoga (Pa.), a team that beat the Lakers last year, found itself facing a 15-0 halftime deficit when the teams met April 5 in suburban Philadelphia.
The 18-3 final score revealed more about Boys' Latin coach Bob Shriver's restraint than his team's lack of prowess in the second half.
Meanwhile, Calvert Hall, after graduating several stars from last year's team — Ryan Brown (Johns Hopkins), Carter Brown (Ohio State) and Evan Connell (North Carolina) — who are now key figures on their collegiate squads, dropped its first two games before rebounding to win four straight against opponents from Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Even so, the Cardinals remain a bit of mystery after playing just six games, despite returning several stars to the fold, including highly regarded senior defensemen Garrett Epple and Tyler Mayes, senior attackman Jordan Germershausen and reigning Towson Times Player of the Year Stephen Kelly, a senior midfielder and U.S. Under-19 Team member.
Last year's runner-up, Loyola Blakefield has some firepower of its own with senior attackman Devin McNamara and senior faceoff specialist Kevin O'Toole leading sophomore midfielders Jack Lombardo and Ryan Conrad into battle.
The Dons have won five straight heading into their opener in Annapolis at St. Mary's.
Always dangerous Gilman will also be in Anne Arundel County visiting Archbishop Spalding. The Greyhounds' lone preseason setback was to five-time defending state champ Hereford on the road in Parkton, yet have not garnered as much attention as some of their conference mates.
And that's not because there's a dearth of talent in Roland Park, especially on an attack unit spearhead by senior Max Greene or on a midfielder line boasting senior Riley DeSmit and junior William McBride.