MIAA's wild season heads for end

No clear favorite emerges for boys lacrosse tourney

May 10, 1999|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Tomorrow's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference first round might offer the wildest finish in 20 years to what is widely considered the nation's toughest high school boys lacrosse league.

Coaches Bob Shriver of Boys' Latin, Jim Moorhead of St. Mary's and Dave Allen of Gilman have been around the league (or its predecessor, the Maryland Scholastic Association) for more than 60 seasons combined. They are three of four coaches whose teams have lost when they were ranked No. 1 -- believed to be a first for the Baltimore area.

"Going into the playoffs this year, McDonogh's the only team with two league losses. Everybody else has got three or more losses. That's pretty good balance," Shriver said.

"It's crazy," Allen said earlier this year.

"I've never seen anything like it," Moorhead said after a recent game.

"No, it's never been this deep," said Loyola's 16th-year coach, Joe McFadden. "Usually, halfway through the season, you've seen one, two or maybe three teams emerging."

In 1996, for example, St. Mary's went 17-0 for the title. Boys' Latin did the same in '97, and Gilman lost only once last season.

"I've always respected the league and that you can lose to any team on any given day," Shriver said. "But this year, there's been a lot more highs and lows for every team."

And St. Mary's probably has experienced the most highs and lows.

When St. Mary's routed then-No. 2 St. Paul's, attackman Chris Summers figured his team had earned its No. 1 ranking. Ranked No. 6 during the preseason, the Saints already had handed defending champ Gilman -- ranked No. 2 in the preseason -- a 9-8 loss.

"St. Paul's was probably our best game of the season. We even surprised ourselves," Summers said. "We were so shocked at how well we played that it took its toll."

The Saints were routed at Landon of Bethesda four days later. That started a three-game losing streak that included a 15-6 rout by Loyola and ended with another one-goal win over Gilman.

But the Saints also needed double overtime to beat Mount St. Joseph, the league's only winless team, and lost to Severn, the league's next-to-last-place team.

St. Paul's, the tournament's sixth seed, began the year with a 13-5 rout of Landon. The Crusaders were ranked No. 2 and unbeaten before suffering their first of five league losses, 16-10, at then-No. 1 St. Mary's.

"Some teams you match up well, maybe an advantage in the midfield or faceoffs," St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato said. "The bottom line is establishing momentum and maintaining it."

But no team has been able to do it.

Boys' Latin dropped McDonogh on the day McDonogh debuted as the area's No. 1 team. Gilman turned the tables four days later -- when Boys' Latin debuted as No. 1.

Gilman won three games as the area's No. 1, including a blowout of Loyola, before getting nipped by St. Mary's two games after the Saints' rout by Loyola.

Loyola beat McDonogh, lost to Georgetown and rebounded to wallop St. Paul's. Ranked No. 3, with a possibility of being a season-high No. 2, Loyola lost its last game of the regular season to Calvert Hall.

"The losses hurt," McDonogh's Bobby Benson said, "but you have to learn from them and move on."

MIAA lacrosse

A Conference tournament

Tomorrow

Boys' Latin (15-3) at Gilman (10-4), 4 p.m. St. Paul's (13-5) at Loyola (9-5), 4 p.m.

Thursday

At Johns Hopkins St. Paul's-Loyola winner vs. St. Mary's (10-4), 5: 30 p.m.

Boys' Latin-Gilman winner vs. McDonogh (18-2), 8 p.m.

May 21

At Johns Hopkins

Championship, 8: 30 p.m.

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