A fast start and a dominating finish made everything in between insignificant for the Gilman lacrosse team.
After surrendering an early four-goal lead and being held scoreless for two quarters, the second-ranked Greyhounds netted the game's final three goals to topple No. 1 and host Loyola, 7-5, yesterday in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference showdown.
Senior attackman Alex Wharton broke a 5-5 tie, scoring his third goal of the game and the eventual game-winner with 7:26 to play, pushing the Greyhounds to 6-0 overall, 2-0 in the league.
Receiving the ball behind the net after Gilman midfielder Zach Goldberg made a nifty pick-up of a ground ball, senior attackman John Pinney sent a pass to Wharton up top and the senior fired a high shot from about 12 yards out over the stick of Dons goalie Matt Antol (seven saves).
"I saw Pinney get it behind the goal and I just got in the passing lane," said Wharton, who is bound for Notre Dame. "I really didn't think about it. I just let it rip and luckily it went in."
Gilman, which tied the score at 5 on Kevin Carroll's goal, ending a five-goal Dons run and a 30-minute scoreless stretch, then got an insurance goal from Brian Carroll. The sophomore midfielder was attempting to pass, but the ball hit off a stick in front and wound up in the Loyola goal for a 7-5 Gilman lead with 2:18 to play.
"That was one of those plays where you knew it was your day, but I think our guys played hard," said Greyhounds coach Dave Allan, whose team was coming off an impressive victory over Landon last week.
Backed by a gritty defense, the Greyhounds earned a 4-0 first-quarter lead with Wharton scoring twice.
Loyola (5-1, 0-1) was stymied by Gilman senior goalie Grant Zimmerman (12 saves) until the 2:15 mark of the second quarter when Emrys Darrell scored.
"Our defense was great," said Zimmerman, headed to North Carolina. "They were giving up shots that they should give up."
The Dons' Ben Rubeor was harassed all afternoon by Gilman's Charlie Kolkin, but his goal one second before halftime cut the Greyhounds' lead to 4-2 and started to shift the momentum.
Loyola, buoyed by Teddy Melanson's work in the faceoff circle, tied the score in the third quarter with two goals and senior attackman Andrew Baird gave the Dons their first lead 40 seconds into the fourth.
But a slew of turnovers and the Greyhounds' strong finish were too much for the Dons to overcome.
Said Loyola coach Jack Crawford: "The bottom line is you have to take care of the ball and finish your opportunities, and we didn't do those things."