Loyola ties St. Mary’s with 0.5 on the clock and wins in overtime

by Dave Larkin

Third-ranked St. Mary’s was less than a second away from escaping Blakefield with a key MIAA A Conference lacrosse victory, Tuesday afternoon, but the host Dons stunned the Saints with a last second score before prevailing, 10-9, in overtime.

When we say “last second score,” we mean it literally.

Loyola Blakefield senior captain Alex Reid put the game-tying goal in the back of the net with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation and junior Alex Breschi netted the game winner in overtime to setoff a celebration for the Dons.

Although Reid and Breschi produced the final heroics, it was sophomore midfielder Jack Koras who kept the offense on track throughout the afternoon with five goals and two assists for the fifth-ranked Dons.

“Jack played a great game today,” said Loyola head coach Ben Rubeor. “He is a heck of an athlete. He not only scored some goals, I thought he made some big plays defensively, in the clearing game, and picking up some key ground balls. So, hats off to him.”

St. Mary’s (6-2 overall, 1-1 MIAA A Conference) appeared poised to ascend to a place near the top of the league after its impressive win over McDonogh, last Friday, but nothing is ever certain in America’s deepest prep lacrosse league. Just one week ago, many wrote-off Loyola’s chances after the Dons (7-3 overall, 2-1 MIAA A Conference) lost at Archbishop Spalding. However, they rebounded nicely this week with wins over St. Paul’s and the Saints. They are now tied for second place with top-ranked Calvert Hall and No. 4 McDonogh, after the Eagles rallied in the second half to stun the Cardinals, 6-3, on Tuesday.

St. Mary’s wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, Tuesday, as junior Ryan Jones won the opening face-off and fed junior BJ Burlace for a quick goal and an early 1-0 lead, just 28 seconds into the opening stanza.

The Saints displayed excellent team speed and athleticism, igniting a dynamic transition game which led to a 3-2 advantage after one quarter. However, Koras tallied a first-half hat-trick to push the Dons in front, 5-4, at the half. In the second half, the Saints appeared to seize control as they outscored the Dons 4-1 over the first 17 minutes. Getting outstanding face-off work from Jones, to go with balanced scoring and a smothering, hard-hitting defense, St. Mary’s built a 9-6 lead with 7:10 left in the fourth quarter.

Koras then put the Dons on his shoulders, scoring two more goals to narrow the margin to 9-8 with 2:17 remaining. St. Mary’s then squandered a “man-up” advantage without taking a shot, looking to run valuable seconds off the clock. Loyola gained possession, and after a flurry of shots, Koras fed Reid who fired a blistering bounce shot, beating Saints’ goalkeeper Aleric Fyock to tie the game just before the final horn.

As the sudden-death overtime period started, St. Mary’s gained possession and started to execute their potential game-winning dodging, cutting, and passing, strategy. Loyola senior co-captain Andrew Florenzo had other ideas. After executing a picture-perfect strip, and starting a clean clear, he gave the Dons their chance.

Senior attackman Connor Hume fed junior middie Alex Breschi with a crisp feed, and Breschi tallied the game winner with a quick-stick goal to set off a wild celebration by the resilient Dons.

Coach Rubeor took the heart-stopping victory in stride and praised the talented and improving St. Mary’s squad, which he coached to a title just three years ago.

“That’s a fantastic St. Mary’s team, and I have a feeling that we will be seeing them later in the season,” said Rubeo. “They have very talented players, they are well coached, and they are dangerous.”

Tristian Micchie led St. Mary’s with three goals and the Saints got one goal each from Ian Kampf, Jack Burnett, Taylor Bohanan, Garrett Nilsen, BJ Burlace, Patrick Dunleavy and Christian LaFranchise. Fyock stopped 14 shots in the cage.

Breschi finished with two goals for the Dons and Ryan Dunn had a goal and three assists. Reid had an assist to go with his game-winner and sophomore Chase Llewellyn also scored for Loyola. Senior Brighton Lorber made seven stops in the Dons’ goal.

St. Mary’s head coach Victor Lilly liked what he saw from his squad, especially their transition game and accurate shooting.

“They got up and down the field really well,” said Koras. “They were shooting the ball well, putting it on cage, finishing at the back of the net. The kids played hard. We just came up on the short end of the stick.”

When asked about the Saints’ recent rise in the VSN boys lacrosse poll, coach Lilly replied, “St. Mary’s doesn’t look at the polls, we look at the MIAA seedings, and right now we are 1 and 1. We’ve got Calvert Hall on Friday night, and that’s what we are focusing on when we get back to Annapolis. It should be fun.”

Loyola will go on the road on Friday to face Severn.

Pictured above: Loyola’s Jack Koras had a five goals and an assist to help the Dons rally to victory against St. Mary’s.

NO. 5 LOYOLA 10, NO. 3 ST. MARY’S 9, OT
SM 3 1 2 3 – 0 — 9
LOY 2 3 1 3 – 1 — 10
GOALS: SM-Micchie 3, Krampf 1, Burnett 1, Bohanan 1, Nilsen 1, Burlace 1, Dunleavy 1, LaFranchise 1; LOY-Koras 5, Breschi 2, Dunn 1, Reid 1, Llewelyn.
ASSISTS: LOY-Dunn 3, Hume 1, Reid 1, Koras 1.
SAVES: SM-Fyock 14; LOY-Lorber 7.