St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato put it best: "Our game against Gilman should be outstanding."
As in the teams' first meeting this spring, won 12-11 by Gilman before about 1,800, the Greyhounds are ranked No. 1 and the Crusaders No. 2.
But this one, at 8 tonight at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field, is for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title.
The fast-breaking, opportunistic Crusaders (13-3) bring to mind St. Paul's title-winning squads of 1991 and 1992. These Greyhounds (15-1), who coach John Tucker calls "my most athletic team," are reminiscent of the school's back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995.
"There's so much emotion tied to the game; more so, I think, than any other," Tucker said.
St. Paul's season has meant working through a teammate's death and the two-week absence of All-Metro attackman Conor Gill because of a concussion.
"We've accomplished a lot, considering what's happened," said midfielder Alex Poole after last Friday's overtime, semifinal win over No. 3 McDonogh that ended the Eagles' 16-game winning streak.
Tucker's 100 career wins include a current six-game win streak, but his Greyhounds have played knowing their coach is leaving to become Boys' Latin's dean of students after tonight.
"Coach Tucker plays it down," said second-team All-Metro defenseman Damien Davis, a junior third-year starter. "We want to win this one for him."
Both teams were unbeaten when they met earlier this spring, and then Gilman midfielder Andrew Faraone put in a pass from Andrew Lucas with 2: 57 left in overtime for the victory, his second overtime game-winner.
Gilman lost its only game, 13-12 in overtime, to Loyola. By contrast, St. Paul's played its best in two wins over Loyola. In a 13-6 win at Blakefield, defenders Trey Whittey (74 ground balls on the season), Scott Marimow (65) and John DiCamillo (61) quelled a Dons offense that scored 24 goals in its first two games. And Alex Kopicki, freshmen Jack deVilliers (team-high 94 ground balls) and Reed Bouchelle won 17 of 21 faceoffs.
Gilman is equally formidable on faceoffs and defense. Faceoff midfielders Blake Atkins and Mike Tully had a 12-10 advantage in the earlier St. Paul's game. While Davis, Will Brassel and Jon Manekin anchor Gilman's defense, the Greyhounds' offense is explosive.
In two games against Boys' Latin, sophomore Ryan Boyle scored nine goals and assisted on five. Senior Alex Lieske scored three against St. Paul's the first time, Lucas and Faroane each had six-goal games, and Farone scored five another time, as well.
St. Paul's, winner of four straight, has Gill and Pat Tracy. Gill's 233 career points are one shy of the school's all-time record. Tracy's 52 goals are tied with two others for the single-season mark.
St. Paul's Conor Ford (33 goals, 10 assists), Michael Satyshur (12, 33) and Poole (14, 15) are capable scorers, and Poole and Satyshur have a combined 140 ground balls.
"With Conor [Gill] being hurt [22 seconds into the game] the last time, St. Paul's proved he's not their only weapon," said Davis. "But we want to prove we deserve to be No. 1."
Pub Date: 5/15/98