The changing of the guard in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference might have been completed yesterday.
Loyola, the area's dominant lacrosse program in the 1980s, was brushed aside by defending champion St. Paul's, 14-9, in the regular-season finale for both teams, at St. Paul's. Tim Whiteley, the Crusaders' senior attackman, turned in a four-goal, four-assist performance that left him as the all-time leading point-getter in the program's storied history.
Loyola has been a playoff regular since the A Conference re-instituted postseason play in 1983, but the Dons will need help to make next week's championships. St. Paul's, meanwhile, takes a 15-0 record into the playoffs, and the Crusaders appear primed to become the first A Conference team to finish unbeaten since Calvert Hall did so in 1972.
"Now, it's safe to say they want to go unbeaten," coach Mitch Whiteley said. "The kids started talking about that when we beat Loyola and Boys' Latin [in mid-April]. That's when they began talking about not just going to the playoffs, but going coast to coast as No. 1."
St. Paul's, the area's top-ranked team since the preseason, won Division I and will play host to Division II runner-up Calvert Hall on Tuesday. Division II champion Boys' Latin will host the other semifinal, but it might not know its opponent for several days.
If Severn wins today at Gilman, the Admirals would grab the second berth out of Division I. A Gilman victory would create a three-way tie among Gilman, Loyola and Severn, all with 7-6 records, and the three would draw straws tomorrow. The holder of the short straw would get a bye, and the other two would play Sunday. That winner would then play host to the team that had the bye on Monday, and the survivor would travel to Boys' Latin Tuesday for what might be its fourth game in as many days.
The championship game will be played Friday (5 p.m.) at UMBC.
At St. Paul's yesterday, Loyola's loss was its fourth straight since standout defenseman Chris Ginter broke a leg against McDonogh two weeks ago. The reeling Dons (7-6) again displayed the tentative style that has puzzled coach Joe McFadden, showing little semblance to the Loyola teams that claimed five A Conference titles between 1983 and 1990.
"To tell the truth, history was part of our problem," McFadden said, alluding to Loyola resting on past accomplishments. "We're lacking a little in confidence right now."
St. Paul's hasn't been the best antidote for opponents this spring, and its ball movement kept finding seams in the Dons' zone. The Crusaders scored six straight goals en route to an 8-1 lead with 2:05 left in the first half, then quelled a Loyola uprising that trimmed the difference to 10-6 midway through the third quarter.
Tim Whiteley has 33 goals and 41 assists for the season and 228 career points, two more than Larry LeDoyen, The Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Year in 1981-82, amassed in four years at St. Paul's.
"The kids we're pumped up about Tim getting the scoring record," his coach and father said, "but he's not the only good one we have. We don't dance a lot or dodge a lot. We emphasize moving the ball."
Elsewhere in the A Conference, Calvert Hall (8-5, 8-5) secured second place in Division II by beating Mount St. Joseph, 7-4. Boys' Latin (12-1, 16-1) further erased the faint hope of St. Mary's (6-7, 8-7), stopping the Saints, 9-7.
In a pivotal MSA BB Conference game yesterday, visiting Archbishop Curley beat Archbishop Spalding, 6-1. Curley thus captured second place and a spot in the conference title game vs. Friends Friday at 3 p.m. at UMBC.
Jason Sarreta had two goals and Gary Myrancza had a goal and an assist to pace the Friars (7-4, 6-3), who built a 5-0 halftime lead over the Cavaliers (9-5, 5-3).