Another exciting Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference lacrosse regular season ended in dramatic fashion Tuesday to set up pairings for the postseason, which starts with Friday's quarterfinals.
While No. 1 Calvert Hall (15-2) finished 9-0 in league play with a 9-8 win at Loyola Blakefield to earn the top seed, No. 3 Boys' Latin (13-5, 7-2) claimed a 10-9 win over No. 5 St. Paul's in the 100th meeting between the teams to claim the second seed. The Cardinals and Lakers received byes in the quarterfinals.
Elsewhere, defending league champion and No. 2 McDonogh (15-3, 7-2) handled Gilman, 16-9 on Tuesday, but finished as the third seed because of losses to Calvert Hall and Boys' Latin. The No. 2 Eagles (15-3, 7-2) will host No. 8 and sixth-seeded St. Mary's (13-6, 4-5) on Friday. Despite the loss to Boys' Latin, St. Paul's (14-5, 5-4) still secured the fifth seed and a home game against No. 6 and sixth-seeded Loyola Blakefield (7-8, 5-4) because of its win over the Dons on April 18.
The semifinals will take place Monday and the title game is May 25 with both rounds held at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.
Here's a closer look at the top two seeds and Friday's quarterfinal matchups:
THE TOP TWO SEEDS
The Cardinals closed out the league season with a last-second win at Loyola Blakefield to complete the perfect mark in league play. On May 9, the Cardinals fell behind Boys' Latin in a battle of league unbeatens and showed they could rally in coming away with an 11-10 home win. They were dominant in beating St. Paul's last Friday, 8-3, to clinch first place. Tuesday's win at Loyola Blakefield was icing on the cake. Jacob Kelly, a junior, is a dynamic playmaker in the league's most dominant attack and senior attackman JT Bugliosi can take over games with his outstanding shot. Senior midfielder Brendan Curry brings high skills and leadership in the middle of the field. Michael Autry has come into his own on faceoffs and first-year goalie Liam Darragh has played consistently well. The Cardinals will open the playoffs against the St. Paul's-Loyola Blakefield winner at 5 p.m. Monday.
The Lakers needed a day like Tuesday in a big way. At St. Paul's, with a big crowd and the excitement of playing in the rivalry's 100th meeting, they came back from an early 3-0 deficit to claim a 10-9 win that ended a two-game slide and secured the second seed and a bye. They enter the playoffs on a high note and get some rest before Monday's semifinal. Seniors stepped up Tuesday and the same will have to hold true for a successful playoff run. Luke Shilling, Greg Ey and Koby Russell shined to lead the offense in getting past the Crusaders. Junior goalie Chris Brandau has been solid throughout the season and his twin, Matt, is a key player on attack. Midfielder Michael Ubriaco and faceoff specialist Jake Glatz — both seniors — help close out games and two freshmen — attackman Brendan Grimes and faceoff specialist Payton Giberson — have made valuable contributions. The Lakers take on the McDonogh-St. Mary's winner at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
FRIDAY'S QUARTERFINAL GAMES
St. Mary's at McDonogh
Time: 4 p.m.
Outlook: Last season, the teams were at the opposite ends of the league with the Eagles winning the championship and the Saints going winless in league play to miss the playoffs. St. Mary's rebounded this season, but have a tough opening assignment Friday. The Eagles claimed a 13-4 win over the Saints on May 4 and have a more experienced and skilled team. They are highly motivated to defend their crown. Jack Parr and Liam Powderly lead the Eagles attack; Jack Simmons and BJ Farrare make big plays in the middle of the field; and defensemen Chris Smith and Brandon Shure make it tough on opposing attacks. The Saints are heavy with underclassmen. Sophomore attackman Ian Kramps, who scored five goals in the Saints' 10-8 win over Mount Saint Joseph on Tuesday to assure its playoff spot, and junior Taylor Bohanan provide a quality one-two punch.
Loyola Blakefield at St. Paul's
Time: 4:15 p.m.
Outlook: Both teams are coming off one-goal losses Tuesday, but can take plenty of positives from staying close against the league's top two seeds. The host Crusaders, who opened league play with a 9-4 win over the Dons on April 18, will be playing with added emotion as coach Rick Brocato is set to retire at season's end. They have pieces to make a strong playoff push with senior goalie Alex Rode a big strength on defense; a dynamic one-two combination on attack with Logan Posner and Keegan Pearl; and a quality faceoff specialist in Brendan Tscherne. All four standouts are seniors. The Dons, who have lost three of their past four games, can't be overlooked under coach Ben Rubeor. Last season, they fell to Calvert Hall in the regular-season finale by five goals, but then came back to knock the Cardinals out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals. Ryan Dunn and Phil Wies provide much of the scoring punch; Colin Clothier is the glue in the middle, with defenseman Koby Smith a strong presence in front of three-year goalie Jake Stout.