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Loyola's Conrad earns Athlete of the Year honors

When it came to lacrosse and soccer, few athletes can match the accomplishments of Ryan Conrad.

When it came to lacrosse and soccer, few athletes can match the accomplishments of Ryan Conrad.

For instance, Inside Lacrosse rates the recent Loyola Blakefield graduate and University of Virginia recruit as the nation's No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015.

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In soccer, the Lutherville resident led the Dons to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship by scoring both goals in a 2-0 triumph last fall over McDonogh, then ranked the No. 1 prep team in the country.

In between those standout seasons, the Towson Times 2015 male Athlete of the Year provided solid play for the Loyola basketball team as a point guard.

"I have been coaching lacrosse for 27 years and I have never coached an athlete that is more physically gifted," Dons' lacrosse coach Jack Crawford said of the 6-foot, 190-pound Conrad, who co-captained all three Loyola squads. "He is also very smooth and polished and supremely confident."

Although Conrad was under enormous scrutiny after being the top lacrosse recruit during his sophomore, junior and senior years at Loyola, he never buckled under pressure.

"I take it as a challenge and try to live up to it," Conrad said. "So people just don't think it was given to me. I just want to earn it and earn the respect that I got it through hard work. It motivated me to get better as a player. I don't want to have a letdown for any of the expectations people have for me."

Conrad will play for the South All-Stars in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Game July 3 at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

After that, he will concentrate his efforts on qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Men's Under-19 National Team at tryouts in late July at Goucher College.

"I would be surprised if he didn't make the team," Crawford said. "I was on the coaching staff of the 2012 team and selection committee on 2008 team. You need guys who are talented, tough and can do a lot of things very well. Guys that can get ground balls and play at both ends of the field. Conrad fits that to a 'T.'"

Trying to stop Conrad this spring for the Dons was a difficult task for rivals, considering his prowess as a two-way midfielder while leading 9-5 Loyola to the A Conference quarterfinals by totaling  team in 32 goals 21 assists and 88 ground balls.

Conrad said his senior year was clearly his best despite racking up 55 points as a junior and helping the Dons to an MIAA championship as a sophomore by scoring 22 goals and dishing out 33 assists.

"I had a totally different role in terms of leading the team as a senior," he explained. "I took control of the team. I was really trying to help out the younger guys. As a junior, I was more of an offensive guy."

Conrad had some memorable efforts as a senior. He totaled three goals and three assists in a 13-11 loss to Boys' Latin and finished with four goals and an assist in a 13-10 over Pennsylvania's Malvern Prep, which was nationally ranked.

"We had never beaten Malvern up there," Crawford said. "He really set the tone in the game not only with points, but more with his play off the wings, behind the lines and with ground balls. He did it all in that game. I think that game set the tone for the season because it was early in the year."

On the soccer field, Conrad led Loyola in scoring for the second straight year, finishing with 12 goals after scoring 10 as a junior.

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He notched both goals in Loyola's 2-0 win over Gilman in the MIAA A Conference final during his sophomore year.

But his performance in last year's championship game sticks out more to Conrad. He scored a goal in the first half and added one with 5:33 remaining in the second half to stun the heavily favored Eagles.

"I don't think I could play that well in that game again if I wanted to," he said. "It was best game of my career. I never played better. It was an absolute dream."

Loyola assistant coach Sam Mangione was surprised how good of a soccer player Conrad became, noting that the senior star only played the sport in the fall.

"I had some college coaching calling me and asking, 'Where he is going to play?'" Mangione recalled. "They wanted to recruit him. They didn't realize he was the No. 1 lacrosse player in the country."

Meanwhile, Conrad also started for two years on the Loyola basketball team, averaging six points, three rebounds and two assists per game as a senior.

His top performances came in loss to archrival Calvert Hall (11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists). The Cardinals were the A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League champion and the area's No. 1 ranked team.

"In the biggest games, he really stepped up," Loyola basketball coach Josh Davalli said. "He reminded me of (former Duke point guard) Steve Wojciechowski, who I played with at Cardinal Gibbons. He had that type of competitiveness and toughness. He is often playing against guys taller than him, but didn't back down from anyone."

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