Going out on top

The Baltimore Sun

The Loyola boys lacrosse team won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title last season and the Dons were looking to repeat as champions this year. It looked as if injuries would derail their chance, but their players stepped up all season -- including senior attackman and captain Joe Cummings -- and the team became the first since Gilman in 1994 and 1995 to win back-to-back A Conference titles. Cummings, a Maryland-bound senior, had a knack for scoring and formed a formidable one-two punch with Virginia-bound attackman Steele Stanwick. Cummings saved his best game for last, with three goals and an assist in a 12-11 win over previously No. 1 Gilman in the title game. Cummings was also a safety and slot receiver on the Dons football team that won a share of the A Conference title with Mount St. Joseph. He plans on majoring in letters and sciences next year and hopes to have a career in business.

What was it like for you winning the A Conference title back-to-back?

It hasn't really hit me yet. It's kind of weird to think about it. It's something I'm going to remember my whole life. When we have our 20- and 30-year reunion, we'll be talking about the back-to-back titles we won. It was great for the team.

How did you personally get up and have such a big game in the final?

Personally, I thought Gilman was just an amazing team, with probably the most explosive offense that I've ever seen in high school. Their defense is awesome and they have a great goalie. Coming in, I knew we had to finish all of our chances. I just found myself in the right spots at certain times. Not just one guy played well but everybody played well, and it was a great team victory.

What type of adversity has the team faced this year?

We lost Andrew Pataki, one of our midfielders, early in the season. That was a big loss for us. As the season continued, it was a new injury with someone else every week. We were battling every week to teach someone a new position. I think we had four attackmen playing midfield at one point. It was a crazy season. Every win we had, it was a team effort.

How close are you and Steele?

No one really knows this, but me, Steele and [senior attackman] Colin McKew, we're all best friends. We all have a great relationship. We hang out basically every day on the weekends. We love going out after practice to Qdoba, our usual spot, and just talking about the team and what's going on. Our friendship really makes the game so much fun to play.

What will you miss most about playing high school lacrosse?

I think the excitement of playing in front of your classmates that you see every day and that you know personally and are your good friends. Especially at Loyola. The lacrosse team represented something more than just the lacrosse department. We were playing for our school and playing for the history of Loyola lacrosse. I'll miss that the most.

Why did you decide on Maryland?

When I had my first visit to Maryland, I just went down for a meeting with the coach [offensive coordinator Andy Copelan]. I left and it just felt right. It's a great school with great tradition. It's not far from home, which is a big thing. There are people down there that I've talked to that have had great experiences down there.

What are your summer plans?

This summer, I'll be going to the Vail Lacrosse Shootout in Colorado. We have a family vacation for about 2 1/2 weeks to Sunset Beach in North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. Then I'll be playing in the Under Armour [all-star] lacrosse game. Besides that, I'll just be laying low and maybe go to Ocean City a little bit.

What's something most people don't know about you that you're willing to tell?

Most people don't know that in eighth grade I tore an [anterior cruciate ligament]. It was a partial tear, so they didn't have to perform surgery, but the doctor initially told me that I wouldn't be able to play sports for three years until my knee was completely mature.

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