No. 1 Eagles run out to an early 5-0 lead, claim sole possession of first in MIAA A lacrosse

by Dave Larkin

Although it was Senior Day at McDonogh School, junior attackman Liam Powderly provided most of the early firepower to help build a 5-0 first quarter lead, as the No. 1 ranked Eagles never looked back and cruised to a crucial 12-7 victory over second-ranked Loyola Blakefield, Tuesday, on a gorgeous sun-soaked afternoon in Owings Mills.

With McDonogh controlling the X with Gable Braun, and seemingly snagging every available ground ball, junior goalie Evan Long sparkled in the net as the Eagles led the Dons 8-2 at intermission. The win gives McDonogh (11-4 overall, 7-1 MIAA A) sole possession of first in the MIAA A Conference, and the inside track to the No. 1 seed for the upcoming postseason tournament.

Loyola, which had won seven straight, fell to 12-4 and 7-2 in MIAA A play.

The Dons found their stride in the second half, as they outscored McDonogh 5-4 in a furious attempt to pull even with the league-leading Eagles. Sophomore midfielder Parker Keeney and junior middie Alex Breschi scored back-to-back goals to pull the Dons within 11-5 early in the fourth quarter.

The Dons would get no closer however, as McDonogh’s dynamic duo of senior defensemen Chris Smith and BJ Farrare stepped up to stymie any hopes of a Loyola comeback. Time after time, Smith created turnover opportunities, and Farrare was ferocious as he gobbled up seemingly every ground ball, turned on the jets, and had the ball in the Eagles’ offensive end in a blur of blinding speed.

The University of Pennsylvania commit, who also plays cornerback for the McDonogh football team, plans on playing both sports at Penn. Farrare, who runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, credits Head Coach Andy Hilgartner for getting the Eagles fired up, and ready to sprint to a commanding lead right out of the gate.

“Coach had us fired up before the game and coming out hot was huge for us today,” said Farrarre.

Hilgartner credits his team’s 19 seniors for providing the incentive for such an outstanding start to the game.

“We talked about who we were playing for today,” said Hilgartner. “We didn’t talk about our league standing, or how this game would affect our season. We were playing for some McDonogh legends, and for senior Zach Brooks who blew out his knee early in the year and was unable to play for us this season. We played for our seniors, and I think that really inspired us in the first half.”

Hilgartner continued, “We were not as efficient in the second half, and much of that was due to Loyola’s fine play.”

Smith pointed to McDonogh’s team defense as the key to their success. “We were sliding really well, and I think that frustrated them a little. We also threw in some zone, and they were having a hard time adjusting to that.”

Pictured above: Defensemen BJ Farrarre and Chris Smith put the clamps on a Loyola comeback attempt.