Dulaney boys soccer and volleyball, Notre Dame Prep volleyball, St. Paul's basketball and ice hockey, Loyola Blakefield cross country, swimming and soccer, Calvert Hall ice hockey and football, and the accomplishments Dulaney cross country runner Eric Walz highlight a memorable 2014 for Towson-area high school sports.
Conrad leads Loyola to soccer championship
Loyola Blakefield senior Ryan Conrad is best known for his lacrosse talents. He will attend the University of Virginia on a lacrosse scholarship.
But Conrad, a Lutherville resident, raised his profile on the soccer field in this fall, scoring two goals in the MIAA A Conference championship to spark the Dons to a stunning 2-0 victory over McDonogh at Stevenson University in early November.
The win spoiled McDonogh's bid for a perfect season. The Eagles were ranked No. 1 in Top Drawer Soccer Fab 50 national rankings.
Calvert Hall's Jeff Wheaton recovered a late fumble to end any threat of a Loyola comeback.
The Cardinals overcame a 12-point halftime deficit and received an outstanding performance from senior quarterback Kenji Bahar, who threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns and completed 15 of 17 passes.
Dons capture another league crown
Loyola Blakefield senior Michael Wegner didn't start the season for the Dons because of a knee injury, but he finished the year in style.
Wegner won the MIAA championship in early November at Oregon Ridge Park to help Loyola to its sixth straight A Conference title. He ran the course in 15:31.40.
Kenny Rowe (5th), Frankie Legambi (9th), Max Barbour (13th) and Kevin Wegner (14th) also posted top finishes for the Dons.
St. Paul's boys hoops gets hot late
The Crusaders didn't look anything like a championship-caliber team in December of 2013.
"We had a tough December," St. Paul's coach Seth Goldberg said. "At this time last year, we thought we were going to be a pretty bad team."
The Crusaders got things together in January and February, losing only one game on their way to a MIAA B Conference championship.
St. Paul's (17-8) cruised to the title, beating Boys' Latin, 62-45, at UMBC in mid-February behind the performance of 6-foot-9, 225-pound center Iba Camara, who finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
"This was a special one," Goldberg said of the his second B title with the Crusaders. "The turnaround was tremendous."
Daniel Wilson, Zach Bare and Alexander Matsinye had 10 points each to aid St. Paul's.
Dulaney volleyball garners another county title
The Lions had another stellar season.
Dulaney won its first 17 matches before bowing to Sherwood, of Montgomery County, in the Class 4A North Regional final in three sets.
For most of the season, the Baltimore Sun ranked Dulaney No. 1 in the high school volleyball poll.
"They are an incredibly strong team," Towson coach Emily Berman said. "They have two really good setters (senior Mallory Svoboda, junior Olivia Finckel), which is really rare and it's even more rare that two of them are left-handed."
Berman should know. Her Generals got swept in the Baltimore County championship game by Dulaney, 25-19, 25-13, 25-23.
It was Dulaney's fourth straight county title under coach Cary Lyon.
"It's always fun to win this," said Lyon, whose team won a Class 4A state championship last year.
Svoboda (11 kills) led Dulaney to its latest county title as the Lions finished the season with a sparkling 17-1 record.
Strong offense powers Calvert Hall ice hockey
Calvert Hall ice hockey coach Mike Shramek said his 2014 Cardinals were the best offensive group he's coached in 13 years.
That was evident in the MIAA A Conference championship game in mid-February at Piney Orchard Ice Arena, in Odenton.
Costa Pizanis and Matthew Curtin each had two goals in the Cardinals' 7-4 victory over Archbishop Spalding.
How dominant was Calvert Hall (20-3-2)? The Cardinals jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first five minutes as Pizanis, Curtin, Trey Gauss and Ryan Dieter scored.
It was Calvert Hall's first A Conference championship since 2010. The Cardinals had also won the title the previous two seasons under Shramek, who stepped down after the season and was replaced by Ryan Woodward.
"It was nice because no one in our dressing room had won the championship before," said Shramek, who won 166 games in 13 years. "It's special for everybody. The expectations were higher for the playoffs because this was the first time we went though the regular season without a league loss. Most years, it felt like we were playing the underdog role."
Calvert Hall's season ended with a 3-1 loss to Gonzaga in the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League championship game at the Garden Ice House, in Laurel, in late February.
Gonzaga senior goalie Nick Platais made 41 saves as his team finished the season 26-0-1.
"We thought our team worked as hard as they have all year," Shramek said. "We had our chances. That's hockey. You can play great, do everything right and have a guy like Nick step in."
Crusaders' ice hockey edges Gilman for B title
The Crusaders captured its first title since 2009 when Whit Schweizer scored with 50 seconds remaining in the third period of the MIAA B Conference final at Piney Orchard Ice Arena, in Odenton, in mid-February.
Crusaders' coach Sam Kaplan moved Schweizer from goalie to forward halfway through the season.
"He is such a great leader," Kaplan said. "He really rose to that challenge."
Ned Moreland and Ian Powderly also scored for St. Paul's.
Walz shines in state, county championships
Dulaney junior cross country runner Eric Walz keeps getting better and better.
He finished strong in the Class 4A boys state cross country championships at Hereford High in early November. In the final quarter mile, Walz closed a 50-yard gap on Diego Zarate and held him off to finish second overall.
Walz ran the 3.1-mile course in 15:56.00.
Walz also captured his second Baltimore County title in mid-October, running the course in 15:49 to help the Lions to the team title.
Dulaney junior Kristen Meek won the girls county championship in 19:08 as the Lion girls secured the team title.
NDP rallies for A Conference crown
Notre Dame Prep volleyball was on the brink of losing in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship, losing the first two sets to Archbishop Spalding.
But the Blazers made a dramatic comeback, rallying to beat the Cavaliers 23-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-9 at Roland Park Country School in early November.
Francesca Zink (12 kills) and Marisa DeLuca (10 kills, 6 blocks) powered NDP to the title.
The Blazers had the best regular season record in the league the past two seasons so NDP coach Jim Isphordiung was thrilled his team broke through for the championship.
"I told them that this was our year," he said. "We proved that it was."
Loyola swimming takes two team titles
Loyola Blakefield swimming finished the 2014 season with a flourish.
The Dons won the 12-team East Coast Catholic Classic in Landover in late January, then took the title in the six-team MIAA A Conference in early February.
It was Loyola's 20th MIAA title in the last 21 years.
"Every year is different, but this year it was harder to win than the MIAAs," Loyola coach Keith Schertle said.
Trey Perry (100-yard freestyle, 50 free) and Cole Buese (100 free, 200 back) each won two events.