Maryvale Prep and St. Paul’s School for Girls take their “Falls Road” rivalry to Ridley; Gilman and Bullis to meet for the first time

by Gary Adornato

The 2019 PNC Lacrosse Invitational will take place Saturday evening at Loyola University in Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex with a high school double-header, featuring a high profile IAAM A Conference girls match-up and a first ever meeting between regional boys’ powers Gilman School and Bullis Prep.

The girls will take center stage at 5:00 p.m. as Maryvale Prep and St. Paul’s School for Girls will take their “Falls Road” rivalry to Ridley. At 7:00 p.m., Baltimore and D.C. powers will collide as Gilman School and Bullis Prep meet for the first time. Both games will be broadcasted on a tape delayed basis by CW Baltimore and aired at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening.

Bullis coach Jeff Bellistri (left) and Gilman’s Brooks Matthews were all smiles at the PNC Invitational press luncheon last week. Their competitive juices will ramp up on Saturday when their teams clash for the first time.

The event, now in its sixth year, is produced by Corrigan Sports Enterprises (CSE) and made possible by the support of PNC Bank.

“Lacrosse is a proud Maryland tradition and its popularity is spreading rapidly throughout the country,” said Laura Gamble, PNC regional president for Greater Maryland. “The PNC Invitational captures the spirit, enthusiasm and high level competition that are hallmarks of Maryland lacrosse.”

Lee Corrigan, president of CSE said, “This event serves as a unique platform for the top high school lacrosse teams in the Baltimore/Washington region. PNC provides a memorable experience for both the boys and girls teams to play in a first-class Division I venue. Many past participants in the PNC Invitational have gone on to stellar careers in college.”

Maryvale Prep coach Kim Dubansky and SPSG Mary Gagnon are both in their second seasons at the helm of their respective programs. They are also good friends and coach together in the M&D club program. Both are excited about the big stage for girls lacrosse.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” said Dubansky, who served as an assistant coach in the IAAM for seven years, including four at McDonogh, before getting her first head coaching assignment last spring. “It’s going to bring visibility to women’s lacrosse. I appreciate how we’re having this joint event with the boys and girls game. It empowers girls and the sport itself.”

SPSG’s Gagnon talked about the battle with the Lions.

“Kim and I are friends. We’ve both coached together a lot, with our club team, so that makes it fun as well,” said Gagnon. “Playing a school that is within walking distance and the girls all know each other. It makes it even more special.”

Members of the Maryvale and St. Paul’s School for Girls lacrosse teams represented their schools at the PNC Lacrosse Invitational luncheon. They will open the action at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Bullis and Gilman both have storied lacrosse traditions, but their paths have never crossed. That will change on Saturday.

Gilman is looking to make lasting memories in each and every game for retiring head coach Brooks Matthews, who is stepping down at the end of the year after 13 seasons with the Greyhounds. Matthews, however, said he is not focused on his departure, instead he is enjoying each moment as it comes.

“I’ve had a lot of great experiences in my time at Gilman, as an assistant coach and a head coach,” said Matthews. “I’m looking forward adding to those memories this year. The PNC Invitational is going to be a great event all the way around, so we’re looking forward to play Bullis. We haven’t played Bullis before. We’re excited for it.”

Gilman senior defenseman Xander Martin talked Matthews’ impact during his time at Gilman.

“As soon as we heard it, we were in shock,” said Martin of the news that Matthews would step aside at seasons’ end. “We were already really motivated and pumped up for the year and just knowing our Gilman School coach, a legendary coach, was (in) his last year, has given us even more motivation. I know personally, I have been luck enough to have been coached by him for four years and he has been absolutely incredible.”