A fair amount of curiosity came with Tuesday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference lacrosse season opener at Calvert Hall, with the Cardinals hosting Gilman after a one-year break from league play.
True to form, the rivals did their part in representing what is considered the country’s finest high school lacrosse league.
The Cardinals — who have won the past three league titles, with the last coming in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 season — picked up right where they left off with a 10-9 win over the Greyhounds.
An impressive three-goal rally from Gilman cut the lead to one and the visitors had possession in the final minute, but the Calvert Hall defense rose to the occasion when junior defenseman Luke McAuliffe deflected Chase Brody’s shot with 14 seconds left and scooped up the ground ball to run out the clock.
Sophomore Shuey Kelly (three goals, two assists) and Ethan Long (three goals, one assist) carried the offense, Jordan Wray scored with 6:55 to play to provide a 10-6 advantage and the defense responded favorably in the closing minute to give Calvert Hall a 1-0 start to the season.
Gilman (0-1) got three goals and an assist from Brody, three goals from Charlie Pope and a 12-save performance from goalie Kyle Morris to provide the Cardinals with a formidable test.
“These guys missed the 2020 team and how to handle something like this, so this is all new. And they did some things really well and they did some things not really well and that’s just part of growing,” Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. “I said to them, look we won — we’re 1-0 — and that’s where you want to be. If you think it’s every going to be easy, you’re crazy in this league. Overall, it was fun just to get out and compete and I’m proud of how our guys kind of stayed the course and there’s a lot of things we can build on from it.”
When Calvert Hall’s JoJo Dean (one goal, two assists) and Shuey Kelly scored 37 seconds apart late in the second quarter, the Cardinals took momentum and a 6-3 lead into the halftime break. After the Greyhounds pulled within one at 6-5 — with Oscar Woloson providing a goal and an assist early in the third quarter — the home team again found separation with Kelly’s two goals and assist pushing the lead at 9-5 entering the fourth quarter.
Two Calvert Hall penalties helped the Greyhounds cut the lead to 10-8 with 4:50 to play, as Pope scored on a two-man advantage and Brody added a goal shortly after. After Warry Calhoun made it 10-9, the Greyhounds had 3:15 on the clock to find the equalizer.
“They’re a good team, but we just listened to our coaches and played as a team. Our whole defense had a mindset of just stop the ball, play as a team and stop the ball,” junior defenseman JK Kelly said.
Gilman coach John Nostrant, who was coaching in his first MIAA game, saw plenty of positives to build on with the team having only 18 practices so far.
“We played really hard today and it was great to be out here competing against Bryan Kelly and a team that has won the MIAA for three years in a row,” he said. “Hopefully, this proves to our guys that we can compete, but we didn’t come to just keep it close, so we have some work to do. But we got down 10-6, we battled back and had a chance to tie it up and that’s all you can ask for.”
Nostrant, who previously lead Haverford (Pa.) School to national prominence before accepting the Gilman position after the 2019 season, has been pleased with how his group has learned on the go in this unconventional year.
“Our goalie play was outstanding and the guys played real hard and represented Gilman very well,” he said. “We just got to keep getting better. The last thing that we want is that we kept it close against Calvert Hall.”