Loyola rolls to MIAA water polo championship; Stropshire named MVP (VIDEO HERE!)



by Derek Toney
Moments after winning the MIAA water polo championship Saturday evening, Loyola Blakefield players grabbed coach Nick Breschi for the celebratory “dip” in the pool. 
Only six months earlier, the Dons watched Gilman School celebrate the title inside McDonogh’s Aquatic Rosenberg Center. The loss seared in Loyola’s collective mind until Saturday. 
The Dons completed an impressive run to the title with a 19-10 victory over McDonogh in Owings Mills. Senior Luke Shropshire scored seven goals for the Dons, and Tanner Turrall added four scores.
The Towson school scored 11 of the first 12 goals, finishing a perfect season at 12-0 and claiming its first championship since 2018. The Dons put up 27 goals in the semifinal round in the afternoon.
The turnaround Saturday, as well as the shortened offseason after playing in the spring due to the COVID-19, did not affect Loyola. 
“I’m really of the guys for being strong through a tough year in general, being strong after a tough loss last spring and coming back with a lot of fire and ready to prove themselves,” said Breschi.
“We had a lot more motivation,” said Dons senior goalie Daniel Parr.
Parr was a freshman when Loyola last hoisted the championship plaque in 2018. Loyola lost to Gilman in the semifinals in 2019 before falling to the Greyhounds, 13-6, in the title match in May.
With a deep senior roster including Parr, Shropshire, Turrall, Carter Boone, Charlie Burke, Alex Fichter, Anthony King, Max Moody, Jeremy Plimpton, Cameron Shinnick and Timmy Takacs, Loyola was confident of a title breakthrough.
“We’ve been playing so long together…we’ve been waiting for this moment to be in the championship,”  said Shropshire. “We’ve been grinding in the pool…being together has built this brotherhood.”
Shropshire, who was given the Greg Hallisey Award as the championship game’s Most Valuable Player, had a hat trick in the second quarter as Loyola led 13-5 at halftime. Moody finished with four goals, and Shinnick added a hat trick.

Luke Shropshire (left), Tanner Turrall and Daniel Parr was part of a talented senior class that helped Loyola capture its first MIAA water polo title since 2018 Saturday. The Dons defeated McDonogh in the final in Owings Mills.

“Most of these guys hadn’t won anything. They knew this was their moment,” said Breschi. “All it took was determination and grit to get there.”
Junior Connor Cashman had four goals for McDonogh (7-5), which ended Gilman’s two-year title reign in the semifinals. The Eagles never led in the final, trailing 4-0 inside the first four minutes and 7-1 after one quarter.
Eagles coach Daniel Russell said reaching the title game was a promising end after his squad lost its final two games.
“They responded well and couldn’t be more proud,” said Russell. “Loyola is a great squad, they’re very fast and physical. We put up a good fight…there’s a reason they went undefeated.”
Despite graduating a talented senior class, Breschi expects the Dons to make a strong title defense next fall. Loyola won the junior varsity championship Saturday. 
“It’s sad it has to come to an end,” said Parr, “but there’s no other way I wanted to come to an end than this.”