Tuesday’s MIAA A Conference lacrosse matchup between Loyola Blakefield and McDonogh School featured the Eagles’ elite defense against the Dons’ explosive offense. In the end, McDonogh’s offense stole the show.
The top-ranked Eagles knocked off No. 4 Loyola, 13-11, at John McDonogh Stadium in Owings Mills. Jackson Morrill had four goals and an assist for McDonogh (10-1 overall, 3-0 MIAA A), and sophomore Jack Simmons added two goals and an assist.
The Eagles, ranked No. 4 nationally in the latest poll, scored four straight goals late in the third quarter to grab control and improve to 3-0 in the premier boys’ lacrosse league in the country. McDonogh shares the top spot with No. 3 Boys’ Latin School, which defeated second-ranked Calvert Hall College in an early league season battle of unbeatens.
Eagles coach Andy Hilgartner was pleased his team survive in the other battle of MIAA A unbeatens Tuesday.
“They’re aggressive all over the field, they’re aggressive in their dodging, they’re aggressive defensively, they’re aggressive in the ride and they got the better of us in a lot of situations today,” said Hilgartner. “They were able to force a lot of turnovers, but, in fairness to other guys we were able to handle it and get great looks at the goal.”
McDonogh got unassisted strikes from Chris Wilson, Morrill and sophomore Andrew Hurdle, and a Barrett Sutley tally off a pass from sophomore Jack Simmons, for a 11-7 advantage with 1 minute, 1 second remaining in the third. The Eagles opened the second half with a two-goal cushion, but Loyola pulled even early in the third.
“It’s something our seniors have been talking about all season, being resilient and when the chips are down we got to be as good as we’ve been all year,” said Morrill, who will play for Yale next spring. “We learned last year other teams are going to make runs and we have to be ready for it and that’s when we have to be our toughest, not when everything’s going well.”
The Eagles had a four-goal cushion at 13-9 after Jack Parr whizzed a shot top shelf past Loyola goalie Jake Stout with 3:41 remaining in regulation. The Dons got to within 13-11, after Phil Wies’ extra-man conversion with 55.4 seconds to play.
Loyola (5-3, 2-1 MIAA A) won the ensuing faceoff, but Eagle longstick Brandon Shure and midfielder Danny O’Connell forced the ball from Wies’ possession. McDonogh sophomore defender BJ Farrare scooped up the groundball with about 24 seconds left to secure the win.
The Eagles opened up a 5-3 advantage in the second quarter after Jason Sarro finished a pass from Morrill. Morrill got a long throw from longstick Arman Medghalchi and scored with 2.5 seconds remaining, giving McDonogh a 7-5 lead.
“They know to throw the ball long and I got a little push on my guy. It was a lucky shot that went in,” said Morrill. “It was a good momentum boost at halftime.”
Loyola battled back early in the third with back-to-back unassisted scores from senior midfielder Brendan Doyle, who finished with four goals. The Dons, who put 39 goals in its first two league matches last week, went scoreless for 10 minutes as McDonogh gained command.
“I thought we could’ve hit a few more of our shots and we gave them a couple of easy ones and a smart team like McDonogh will always take advantage,” said Loyola coach Ben Rubeor. “We got to continue to improve.”
McDonogh went eight of 12 on faceoffs in the second half, and 16 of 26 overall with Chris Wilson and Noah McCoy. The Eagles out-shot Loyola, 35-20.
“We knew we had to get possession against this team to slow them down,” said Hilgartner. “No matter how good of a defense we have or think that we have, we had to get possession.”
Hilgartner continues to be pleased with the Eagles’ offensive balance. Parr scored twice and Sutley, who will play for Penn State next spring, had a goal and two assists.
The Eagles are 3-0 in MIAA A play for the first time since 2011. McDonogh plays at sixth-ranked Mount St. Joseph Friday afternoon.
“Three and 0 is a good start and that’s what we wanted,” said Morrill. “We learned from last year it’s not about the regular season, you got to make the playoffs and that’s what really counts.”
No. 1 McDonogh School 13, No. 4 Loyola Blakefield 11
Goals: Loyola – Doyle 4, Goles 2, Williams 2, Bateman, Reid, Wies; McDonogh – Morrill 4, Parr 2, Simmons 2, Hurdle, Sarro, Wilson
Assists: Loyola – Williams 2, Dunn; McDonogh – Sutley 2, Morrill
Saves: Loyola – Stout 16; McDonogh – Lanier 5
Loyola 2 3 2 4 – 11
McDonogh 3 4 4 2 – 13