Under a broiling sun and with temperatures in the low 90s, Gilman and Boys’ Latin staged a war of attrition in the opening match of the MIAA soccer season Friday afternoon in Roland Park.
The A Conference Greyhounds, who had possession for a majority of the game, eventually broke through on Avery Merlo’s put-back of a rebound in the 46th minute, to earn a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the young Lakers from the B Conference.
Yet Boys’ Latin coach Don Rickels said that his team’s effort was laudable, considering its stark inexperience.
“This was our first outing on real grass on this nice big field,” Rickels said. “We’ve had no scrimmages — nothing. It was a wonderful result. Three quarters of my team have never played a varsity game before. I graduated 15 seniors last year, so this was (the newcomers’) first varsity test ever. And I thought we played really, really well against Gilman.”
Gilman, which has played scrimmages against Gerstell Academy, Dulaney and Hereford, pushed forward from the outset and came dangerously close to scoring in the 10th minute on senior back Sam Tirone’s 15-yard blast that nicked the left post before skidding out of harm’s way.
With just under two minutes before halftime, the Greyhounds nearly struck again on senior forward Braeden Alevizatos’ 25-yard drive that nearly eluded BL senior keeper Jordan Douglass, who adroitly plucked the ball from from the air after it popped up off his hands and above his head or a split second.
Douglas collected another save early in the second half after Alevizatos’ touch-pass to sophomore Tyler Martinez was one-timed toward the net.
Douglas dove to his left to smother the ball and keep the game scoreless.
However, Merlo made his presence felt when he collected his own rebound that caromed off a defender and the sophomore midfielder slotted a shot into the right side of the goal for the game’s only score.
“My original shot deflected off the defender and came right to me,” he said. “That was weird. I wan’t expecting it to happen. It just happened. It was great. I missed a few shots in the first half that I should have put away. I felt like I really needed that one.”
While the Lakers exerted very little pressure on Gilman’s senior backs Luke Wulff, Tirone and Mac Realo or senior keeper John Philippou (3 saves), it’s fair to note that that their most highly regarded returnee, sophomore center midfielder Louis Marchese, missed the game because of an injury.
Freshman Daniel Cline, who said he is only 5-feet-3 inches tall and weighs just 115 pounds, made a couple of slick moves in Marchese’s absence, giving Rickels and the Lakers a preview of what could become a pretty solid scoring tandem this season.
Meanwhile, from a defensive perspective, senior Garrett Glaeser, said the Lakers had a strong performance.
“I thought for a totally new defense, we showed well,” he said. “We were experimenting with different groups, so I’m pretty happy overall.”
Gilman coach Jon Seal said that the early start to the season means that the Greyhounds will open the A Conference campaign on Tuesday — a day before classes begin — at preseason No. 1 Calvert Hall.
“I thought we played pretty well today, but I thought we should have had three or four more goals,” he said. “We have to be ready because we’re going to Calvert Hall on Tuesday.”
GILMAN 1, BOYS’ LATIN 0
BL 0 0 0
Gil 0 1 1
Saves: Gilman-Philippou 3; BL-Doulas 6; Sheppherd 1.