Gilman's 11-10 victory over second-ranked Loyola in yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A 0' Conference matchup was more convincing than the score would lead one to believe.
One week after being upset by Calvert Hall, the No. 3 Greyhounds returned to last season's championship form as they opened up an 11-7 fourth-quarter lead, before allowing the visiting Dons to make it look close with two goals in the final 27 seconds.
"We started slow this year, but the rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated," said Gilman coach John Tucker. "The RTC losses did us good and we're looking forward to the upcoming weeks because, hopefully, we'll get hot at the right time."
Princeton-bound Lorne Smith, who was 0-for-16 in shots in the four-overtime loss to Calvert Hall, found his range and led the Greyhounds out of the blocks in the first half with three of his game-high five goals and two assists.
Smith's first goal came two minutes into the game and gave the Greyhounds a 3-0 lead before Loyola's offense ever took possession.
Gilman (7-2) went up 4-1 on the second of Scott Banerjee's three goals and led 5-3 after Smith forced a turnover near midfield and took it straight to the net.
"Lorne Smith is without question, in my opinion, the best attackman around," said Tucker. "He really wanted the ball today and he was terrific when he got it.
Loyola coach Joe McFadden agreed.
"This kid Smith is outstanding," he said. "He's as strong an offensive force as we've come up against this year and to his credit, he had a career day against us."
Dave Fields (three goals) pulled Loyola back to within one early in the second quarter on a feed from Jason Rickel (one goal, four assists), but Smith answered by feeding James McIntyre on a goal and then scoring on an assist from R. C. Kauffman.
Brian Zeller, who also finished with three goals, scored his third with three minutes left to cut the Greyhounds' halftime lead to 7-5.
Scott Diggs, who could only come away with eight of 22 faceoffs going against McIntyre and Kirk Caldroney, won the faceoff at the start of the second half and scored eight seconds into the period, pulling Loyola to within a goal.
Smith answered for the Greyhounds and Banerjee returned the margin to three with 4:16 left in the third. Fields scored later in the period for Loyola (6-2), but Smith and Banerjee scored back-to-back unassisted goals in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to make it 11-7.
Gilman goalkeeper Corey Popham made the bulk of his 16 saves in the final quarter before Rickel and J. L. Reppert (two, two) scored in the waning seconds.
"The first half, the offense took care of business and I was just glad we could do it in the second half," said Popham.