Dons top Gilman for their fourth crown and first since 2014
by Joe DiBlasi
Boston College bound senior Matt Clark scored seven goals to lead the top-seeded Loyola to the school’s fourth MIAA water polo title, with a 14-5 victory over Gilman, in the league championship match on Saturday afternoon at McDonogh.
Playing for first year Loyola head coach Nick Breschi, Loyola took a 1-0 lead 22 seconds into the contest when Graham Lindner tallied. Jackson Turrall made it 2-0 three minutes later and the Dons never looked back.
Clark fired in three straight scores, in a two minute second quarter span, to propel the Dons to a 6-2 lead, with 4:28 remaining in the first half. Clark finished the first half with four goals, and he added three more in the second half.
Seven different players scored for Loyola, and goalie Jack Mehr-Racucot registered 13 saves. His counterpart in the Gilman goal, Hollis Quasebarth, had 12 stops.
Clark said that Mehr-Racucot was phenomenal.
“Jack was great at stopping the outside shot as well as the shots inside,” said Breschi. “[He] gave us what we need it, and kept it from being a close game.”
A humble team leader, Clark gave all the credit for his success to his teammates.
“I owe everything to my teammates. They have been making me work hard all year, and making me want this real bad after losing in three championship games since I was a freshman.”
Clark also had praise for Gilman.
“They have come a long way and they did a great job during the regular season.”
It was the first time the Greyhounds have been in a water polo championship game in 20 years.
“It has been a long process,” said Gilman coach Vaughan Smith. “I give credit to Loyola, they came out to play. Our making the championship game will give motivation to our junior class and below. I want to thank our seniors and congratulate Loyola.”
Gilman’s 10-6 win over McDonogh in the semifinals, on Friday, ended the Eagles two-year reign as league champions. Loyola’s title was its first since 2014 and its four league crowns are second only to the eight owned by Calvert Hall, which did not qualify for the post-season for the first time in league history.
Breschi, who was thrown in the pool by his players after the win, said, “It is all about conditioning and a lot of swimming, that was the key to getting here and winning.
“All the guys came together from start to finish and they really went after it”.
The Greyhounds and Dons each finished the year with 9-1 records in the regular season.
MIAA WATER POLO CHAMPIONSHIP
LOYOLA 14, GILMAN 5
GOALS: GIL-Masom 2, Wight, Gildea, Lebow; LOY-Clark 7, Bednarski 2. Turrall, Legambi,
Linder, Anderson, Galvez.
SAVES: GIL-Quasebarth 12; LOY-Mehr-Racicot 13.