The No. 4 Loyola boys lacrosse team is on to something special in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.
More proof came in Tuesday's semifinal against No. 2 McDonogh.
The Dons, who were seeded sixth, won the faceoff battle, executed on attack and kept the second-seeded Eagles in check to come away with a 13-4 win at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Devin McNamara (two goals, five assists), Kevin Jackson (three goals, one assist) and Alex Roesner (four goals) led the Dons' attack and senior midfielder Kevin O'Toole controlled the faceoffs to key the win.
Loyola (12-8) will meet undefeated and No. 1 Boys' Latin — a 12-10 winner over No. 3 Calvert Hall in Tuesday's other semifinal — in the championship game at 8 p.m. on Friday. The Lakers (19-0) came away with a 13-8 win over Loyola in the regular season on May 3. It's the second straight championship appearance for Loyola, which fell to Calvert Hall, 17-3, in last year's title game. McDonogh ends its season with a 14-4 mark.
After experiencing more downs than ups in the regular season — opening league play with three losses, answering with three straight wins and then closing with three more losses — the Dons have found their footing at just the right time. Leading 4-2 at the half on Tuesday, they ambushed the Eagles with a 9-goal second half.
"We've been through a lot of adversity and there were times we could have rolled over. But we fought our way through — it started with our seniors — and the adversity we dealt with has meant a lot. That's pretty much what you're seeing now — pretty much the essence of our team right now," Loyola coach Jack Crawford said.
Just how far have the Dons come in the postseason?
They needed Mount St. Joseph to upset St. Mary's in double overtime on the final day of the regular season to even qualify for the postseason, claiming the sixth seed as the only playoff team with a record under the .500 mark in league play. In Friday's quarterfinal round, the Dons visited third-seeded Gilman and brashly stayed a step ahead in earning a 17-14 win. On Tuesday, the Dons once again was better in every facet against a second-seeded McDonogh team to avenge an 8-6 regular season loss.
The Dons closed out the regular season with a loss to Calvert Hall with little expectation of Mount St. Joseph beating St. Mary's to gain the final playoff spot. But the Gaels pulled off the upset and the Dons have made sure to take advantage of their second chance.
"It's crazy," Jackson said. "[After losing to Calvert Hall in the regular season finale], I went over to one of my senior classmates, Tyler Llewellyn, and told him it was great playing with him and we get in the locker room and learn we're in the playoffs."
Leading 4-2 at the half, the Dons methodically and emphatically pulled away from McDonogh, which came into the game averaging just under 10 goals per game. After the team's exchanged goals at the start of the third quarter, they scored four straight goals and then closed out the game with the final four to win.
MIAA A semifinal
4 Loyola 13, 2 McDonogh 4
Goals: L – Conrad 2, Jackson 3, Roesner 4, McNamara 2, Llewellyn 2;
M – McGee 2, Frederick, Austin.
Assists: L – Nordbrook 2, McNamara 5, Jackson; M -- None.
Saves: L – Newton 6;
M – Doyle 8.
Half: L, 4-2Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun