Gilman bests Loyola for repeat in MIAA water polo; Mendez-Trender claims Hallisey Award


2020-21 MIAA WATER POLO CHAMPIONS

GILMAN SCHOOL GREYHOUNDS

by Derek Toney

It took a while, seven months to be exact, but Gilman School is again MIAA water polo champions.

The Greyhounds claimed a second straight championship with a 13-6 victory over Loyola Blakefield at McDonogh School’s Rosenburg Aquatic Center. Antonio Mendez-Trendler scored seven goals for Gilman, and sophomore Andrew Garvey finished with three.

The Roland Park school ran off seven unanswered goals in the first half and never looked back, completing a perfect season (12-0). Senior Ian Raley scored twice.

The MIAA water polo campaign, normally played in the fall, was postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The MIAA allowed the indoor sport to compete in the spring.

After months of uncertainly, Gilman, left little doubt once it took the pool in March.

“We kicked it up another gear…luckily a lot of them were in pretty good shape to begin with,” said Greyhounds coach Vaughan Smith. “The end result is what you saw. It was a great team effort, commitment, hard work, dedication.”

“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs,” said Raley. “We had teammates sick from Covid, but we were still able to work hard in the pool and let nothing stop us from achieving goals.”

The Greyhounds dominated in the regular season, winning seven of their 10 matches by 10 goals or more. Loyola provided the only resistance, 14-12 and 12-8, during the regular season.

The Dons got the early jump (2-0) Thursday before Gilman, especially Mendez-Trendler, imposed their will. The senior produced a natural hat trick in the second quarter, and opened the second half with another score, putting the Greyhounds ahead 7-2.

Loyola (9-3), seeking its first title since 2018, pulled to 7-4 with 5 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the third. After a Gilman timeout, Mendez-Trendler scored his fifth goal as the Greyhounds scored four of five goals for an 11-5 lead.

Gilman’s Antonio Mendez-Trendler (right) is pictured with MIAA Executive Director Lee Dove after receiving the inaugural Greg Hallisey MVP Award Thursday evening. The Greyhound senior finished with seven goals, leading the Roland Park school to a second straight MIAA water polo championship.

Mendez-Trendler received the inaugural Greg Hallisey Award as the title game’s Most Valuable Player. Hallisey, a well-respected and longtime swimming official, passed away last August after a brief illness.

Mendez-Trendler, who’s bound to Washington University in St. Louis in the fall, said Smith had the team do a visualization exercise before leaving for McDonogh Thursday.

“I saw myself trying to win it for my team and give the best effort that I could,” said Mendez-Trendler.

Mendez-Trendler, Charlie Hiller, Charlie Nuermberger and Raley were the only holdovers from the 2019 Greyhound team that captured its first MIAA championship after losing in the 2018 final.

“In 2019, guys were hungry and I think the experience rollover into this year and it overflowed,” said Smith. “They know playing for a championship is completely different from a regular season game.”

And, 572 days later, the Greyhounds again know the feeling of a champion.

“We just have a great team bond, all the practices, all the hours, we know how we’re going to play,” said Mendez-Trendler, who plans to play club at Washington University. “We have a plan and we stick to it as much as possible. In the end, it showed.”