You would be hard pressed to find a better Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference boys lacrosse final than last night's championship game at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
It featured Gilman - which came into the game undefeated and heralded by laxpower.com and insidelacrosse.com as the No. 1 team in the country. And Loyola - the reigning A Conference champion, featuring perhaps the best player in the country in Steele Stanwick.
It certainly didn't disappoint. The Dons survived a back-and-forth matchup to outlast Gilman, 12-11. Loyola is back-to-back A Conference champions, the first time that's happened since Gilman (18-1) did it in 1994 and '95.
"Unbelievable. There's no way to describe it," said Stanwick (one goal, two assists). "It was a great team effort."
Fellow senior attackman Joe Cummings led the Dons (13-4) with three goals while Anthony Golden, Rob Fitzpatrick, Neil Hutchinson and Colin McKew each added two. Gilman's Davey Emala had a game-high seven goals.
The win was Loyola's sixth one-goal victory this season.
"Gilman's a great team, but it's a great win for our kids," Loyola coach Jack Crawford said. "We're not always pretty, but our kids fight their tails off."
Neither team could pull away in the first half as the score was tied at 6 going into the third quarter.
Loyola controlled possession for the first six minutes and capitalized with two Cummings goals, for an 8-6 edge. The Greyhounds' Evan Redwood found a cutting Emala to cut the lead to one.
With less than two minutes left, Stanwick found McKew for a 9-7 lead. With just 10 seconds left, Anthony Golden scored among a handful of Gilman defenders for a 10-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Emala scored 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, Marcus Holman ran in front of the net and scored with 7:51 left and Jack Doyle scored from 15 yards out with 7:07 left to tie the score.
Hutchinson ran to right, took a bouncing shot and scored to regain the lead for the Dons, and Fitzpatrick extended it with a goal with less than three minutes remaining. Emala got his seventh goal with 1:41 remaining, but Loyola was able to run out the clock.
B Conference -- No. 14 Archbishop Curley beat John Carroll, 8-5, for the Friars' second straight B Conference title. Curley (15-1) had a 4-3 lead entering the fourth quarter before breaking the game open. Kevin Ruth's goal with 3:08 capped a four-goal run, clinching the game. Brandon Capaletti led the Friars with two goals, and Graham Archer had two for the Patriots (12-3).
C Conference -- Cardinal Gibbons defeated Saint John's Catholic Prep, 12-7, for the title. David Nesbit scored a game-high five goals and added an assist for the Crusaders (13-6), and Pat Hathaway added three goals. Saint John's (17-5) led Gibbons 4-1 midway through the second quarter before Gibbons scored eight of the next nine firstname.lastname@example.org