Loyola Blakefield subdues Boys’ Latin; Koras and Tucker finish with three goals each (VIDEO HERE!)

AJ Larkin (left) led the defense while Kevin Tucker paced the offense for Loyola Blakefield lacrosse Sunday. The Dons won their third straight decision with a 12-10 victory over Boys’ Latin in Roland Park.

by Nelson Coffin

Nearing the completion of just his second full year — and a few games in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign — at the helm the Loyola Blakefield lacrosse team, Gene Ubriaco has witnessed the recent ups and downs of the tradition-rich program.

Lately, though, the Dons’ trajectory seems to be only rising as they polished off their third straight MIAA A Conference win, a 12-10 verdict over Boys’ Latin on Mothers Day at J. Duncan Smith Field.

Ubriaco, a BL grad, said that the victory over his alma mater was the most complete game his team has played during his tenure at the Towson school.

The positive result for the Dons (6-3 overall and MIAA A) moved them closer to locking up the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs.

“We put together athleticism with decision-making with the appropriate amount of risk,” he said. “It’s a hard formula, but I think we did it as best as we’ve done it so far.”

Loyola, after knocking off Archbishop Spalding and Severn, came ready to play in a game against the Lakers that was originally scheduled to be played March 26.

The offense had several standouts, including senior attackman Charlie Koras and senior midfielder Kevin Tucker, both of whom scored three goals while senior midfielder Matt Dixon and sophomore midfielder Matt Burnam each scored twice for the Dons.

The defense was also in fine form, holding BL’s dangerous lefty junior sniper Dom Pietramala to two goals and an assist with a combination of shut-off, zone and one-vs.-one tactics that mostly kept the North Carolina commit out of the offensive flow.

Junior AJ Larkin did most of the heavy lifting against Pietramala, with some timely assistance from senior Matt Rice and others in the defensive sector.

“I’ve played against him for a long time in club ball,” Larkin said. “He’s a very good player and very crafty. I just tried to use fundamentals as much as I could. As a team, we just tried to stay together. If we do that, no one can beat us.”

Senior attackman Ben Smith was the Lakers’ most effective weapon, scoring a game-high four goals and adding two assists.

Loyola only trailed once, and that came after Smith scored back-to-back goals to end the opening period and begin the second quarter to give BL a short-lived 3-2 lead.

Tucker knotted the score midway through the quarter before Dixon converted a feed from senior attackman Henry Tolker to boost Loyola back on top with just over five minutes left in the half.

The Dons eventually began to stretch their advantage to three goals, a feat they accomplished five different times in the second half.

Every time that would happen, the Lakers (6-4, 5-4 MIAA A) would retaliate to keep within striking distance.

Koras’ first goal of a very productive third quarter, which gave Loyola a 7-4 cushion, was answered by Smith.

Likewise, when Koras scored again, senior attackman Garrett Glatz had BL’s response.

A third straight Koras goal was addressed by Pietramala before Burnam and sophomore Laker attackman Jackson Walsh also traded tallies.

That dynamic changed when Tucker scored consecutive goals to push Loyola ahead, 12-8, with less than six minutes remaining in regulation.

“It was my day to bury shots,” Tucker said. “It was (Henry) Tolker’s day to have assists. The next game it could be the other way around. Our confidence is higher than it’s been all season. But we know how this league works — every game is against a tough team.”

Although Pietramala and Glatz cut into the deficit, it wasn’t enough to get the Lakers even.

“A lot of credit goes to Loyola,” Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell said. “We’ve done a pretty good job of answering the bell this season. Now we just have to focus on Tuesday.”

Tuesday, the final day of the MIAA A regular season, will feature several rivalry matches including Boys’ Latin hosting St. Paul’s School and Loyola visiting Calvert Hall.

The Dons can secure the fourth-seed with a victory, and or a loss and Boys’ Latin victory. The latter scenario would result in a three-way tie with Loyola, BL and Calvert Hall (all would be 6-4).

With no head-to-head tiebreaker (Loyola def. BL, and BL def. Calvert Hall), Loyola would advance on the next tiebreaker – head-t0-head against teams in front – because of its victory over second-place Spalding.

The Lakers would be the No. 5 seed with a Loyola victory, but a loss and Calvert Hall win over Loyola would make BL the No. 6 seed.

Calvert Hall, with a win over Loyola and BL loss, would be the No. 4 seed with Loyola and BL, the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively.

Goals: LB – Charlie Koras 3, Kevin Tucker 3, Matt Dixon 2, Matt Burnam 2, TJ Gravante, Rice; BL – Ben Smith 4, Garrett Glatz 3, Dom Pietramala 2, Jackson Walsh.
Assists: LB – Henry Tolker 3, Hayden Miller, Cole Myers; BL – Dom Peitramala, Ben Smith, Jacob Pacheco.
Saves: LB – Jack Webb 8; BL – Cardin Stoller 11.

Loyola 3 3 4 2 — 12
Boys’ Latin 2 2 3 3 — 10