The road to the 2013 MIAA A Conference Championship was traveled by 2 very different teams, both headed towards a very dramatic conclusion. So dramatic in fact, had anyone predicted it a few days ago, I would have called them foolish, or worse.
Loyola’s road to the MIAA A finals was a rocky one at best. The Dons finished their A conference regular season with an overall record of 10-8, and went 3-6 in conference play. Had it not been for a St. Mary’s loss to Mount St. Joe on the final day of the regular season, the Dons would not have made the post season at all.
In contrast, the Boys’ Latin Lakers absolutely belonged in the finals. BL finished the 2013 regular season with an unblemished record of 19-0, and were considered by many to be the best high school lacrosse team in the country. The Lakers sported 24 Division 1 commits (14 seniors, 9 juniors and 1 sophomore). They were ranked #1 by Inside Lacrosse all year and had dispatched nationally ranked foes such as The Hill Academy, Culver Prep and Gonzaga. Frankly, the Lakers seemed invincible.
Needless to say, Loyola would have to put together a perfect 4 quarters of lacrosse, the best 4 quarters of their lives, if they were to keep up with the Lakers. Twelve minutes into the game, all was not well for the Dons.
For Loyola head coach Jack Crawford, the opening quarter must have been the longest 12 minutes of the season, or maybe even his life.
Crawford watched as his Loyola defense was shredded by the Lakers attack. Shack Stanwick (JHU), Keegan O’Connor (Loyola) and Colin Heacock (UMD), charged the cage in hyperdrive, weaving through Loyola defensemen as if they were standing still, en route to a 6-0 Lakers advantage.
Stanwick got things started for the Lakers with an inside move from the right side of the cage, beating his defensemen and Loyola net-minder Acie Newton from close range. After O’Connor’s goal, Heacock sliced through 3 long poles from the left side of the cage, sticking another shot past Newton, untouched. Four minutes later, Tal Bruno bagged another goal for the Lakers, off a fast break, followed by 2 more goals from Heacock, who had a hat trick before the Dons had even taken a decent shot.
The Dons got their first goal at the 9:14 mark of the 2nd quarter when Kevin Jackson fed Tim Nordbrook who finally cracked the Lakers defenses. Devin McNamara (Villanova) tallied for the Dons just 2 minutes later, followed by Virginia bound Ryan Conrad, who scored unassisted for the Dons with 4 minutes remaining before the break. The Lakers countered a minute later when Heacock fed Michael Lynch for BL’s 7th goal of the night. Tyler Llewellyn managed to cut the Lakers lead down to 4 with a goal at 1:19, off a feed from McNamara. However, the Lakers still owned a comfortable 3 goal lead at the intermission.
After exchanging multiple possessions for the first half of quarter 3, the Loyola offense came to life, along with Tim Nordbrook.
Nordbrook (Va Tech) got things rolling for the Dons at the 6:11 mark, scoring his second of 4 goals on the night. Soon after, Nordbrook found Alex Roesner (Penn) for Loyola’s 6th goal. A minute after Roesner scored, McNamara fed Nordbook who buried a shot past Laker net-minder Christian Knight (Cornell) while man-up.
Suddenly, it’s 7-7. Suddenly it’s a ball game…..and the Lakers no longer look invincible.
Boys’ Latin would respond in the 4th quarter with goals by Devin Shewell (JHU) and Michael Lynch. Lynch took a feed from Stanwick at 4:56, and unleashed an absolute cannon into the upper portion of the net. Lynch’s goal gave BL a slim 2 goal lead at 9-7, which for the moment, seemed enough to seal the victory.
Amazingly, the Dons would score 2 goals to tie the game with 2:44 remaining, as Nordbrook would score unassisted for his 4th of the night, followed by another Ryan Conrad goal off a feed from McNamara (2g, 4a).
Senior Kevin O’Toole (JHU) grabbed the ensuing face-off for Loyola and Devin McNamara shook loose his defender in front of the cage. McNamara buried his second goal of the game to give the Dons a 10-9 lead with under 2:00 to play. Boys’ Latin was able to get one last shot at the cage after converting a full field pass, but the shot went awry.
Ball game ….miraculous postseason and comeback complete: Loyola 10, Boys’ Latin 9.
The Dons 10-9 victory was the culmination of an amazing playoff run that will be talked about for ages. The Dons managed to defeat McDonogh, Gilman and Boys’ Latin, teams they had lost to during the regular season, on their way to their 4th MIAA Championship and 12th overall in school history.
For the Lakers, what could have been one of the greatest seasons in BL history, will now always be remembered as one of the greatest Laker teams to not win the A Conference title.
In the other MIAA finals, St. Peter & Paul won the MIAA-B Conference by defeating John Carroll, 13-10. Gerstell captured the MIAA-C Conference with a 12-6 victory over St’ John’s Catholic Prep.