Loyola subdues Gilman in lacrosse debut; Tolker drops five goals (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
AJ Larkin was one of the last in a line of very happy Loyola Blakefield lacrosse players who came off the field after defeating Gilman School Tuesday.
“Start of a legacy,” the junior defensemen said loudly.
“We’ve been waiting a whole year to get back out there and trust me, we’ve been grinding hard,” Larkin said minutes later. “We’ve been working individually because of Covid…we got a special team this year.”
The wait ended gloriously for the Dons, who posted an impressive 13-4 decision over the Greyhounds in a MIAA A Conference contest at Harden Field in Towson. Senior attack Henry Talker scored five goals for Loyola, and Mason Cook contributed a hat trick.
The Dons rolled out to a 6-1 halftime lead then ran off six unanswered tallies in the second half in their first game since March 7, 2020. Six days later, the college and professional sport worlds came to a halt as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, and high school athletics were shuttered.
The Dons’ 2021 preseason was paused for nearly two weeks because of COVID issues and two scrimmages were cancelled. Their season debut at Boys’ Latin School last week was pushed back to later in the season.
To say Loyola was hyper-anxious to hit the turf Tuesday would be an understatement.
“It’s been a longtime coming,” said Tolker. “It’s been a long wait…I couldn’t be any more happier right now to get a win over a good team.”
Dons coach Gene Ubriaco had some trepidation going into Tuesday, especially with a head-first dive into the nation’s premier high school league.
“I’ve been thinking that what I’ve been watching every day in practice has been highly competitive and good,” said Ubriaco. “But until you actually have an opponent, you really don’t have a great sample size.”
Loyola (1-0 overall and MIAA A) put together arguably the most impressive performance in the early stages of the MIAA A campaign Tuesday. The Dons led 4-0 after one quarter, then scored twice in the final 30 seconds for a 6-1 halftime advantage.
The Greyhounds got two quick scores early in the third to cut the deficit, but Tolker started a run of six unassisted goals, regaining command for Loyola. The Naval Academy commit had four unassisted tallies Tuesday.
“Coach U give the saying ‘put up some haymakers,’ and I think we did,” said Tolker. “The offense, we just delivered…transition goals, six-on-six goals, unsettled goals.”
Cook, a freshman, had an assist along with his three goals, and senior midfielder Matt Dixon (Loyola University commit) finished with two goals and assist. Larkin, a longstick, threw in a tally and was part of a defensive effort that allowed one Gilman score in eight man-down situations Tuesday.
“At halftime, Coach U really came at us and he said mentality, we got to have that mentality,” said Larkin.
Ubriaco tipped his hat to his 23 seniors in guiding the Dons through the early second half adversity.
“A lot of these guys have been there before and they know in the MIAA A, you’re never safe, you’re never comfortable,” said Ubriaco.
Jake Tompkins scored twice for Gilman (0-2, 0-2 MIAA A). After a gutsy effort in their opener, a 10-9 loss at three-time reigning MIAA A champ Calvert Hall College last week, the Greyhounds weren’t able to recover Tuesday from Loyola’s second half salvo.
“We held them under 10 (goals) for a long time…so our defense and goalie play did enough to get us back in the game and our offense just didn’t do it,” said Gilman coach John Nostrandt. “I just challenged them, we have to get better.”
The Greyhounds are scheduled to make their 2021 home debut Thursday with a non-league match against Delaware’s Cape Henlopen. They’re back on the road for MIAA A play, Tuesday at John Carroll School.
Loyola returns to action Tuesday against St. Mary’s at Hargaden Field. Ubriaco said the Dons are still figuring out things schematically.
But they’re just happy to be finally playing.
“We got a special team this year,” said Larkin. “Our defense played amazing today, our offense lit it up, moving the ball fast. Big things are coming for us.”
Loyola Blakefield 13, Gilman School 4
Goals: Gilman – Jake Tompkins 2, Clayton Baddley, Jay Wilkerson; Loyola – Henry Tolker 5, Mason Cook 3, Matt Dixon 2, TJ Gravante, Jackson Zuranski
Assists: Gilman – Tucker Hebert, Oscar Woloson; Loyola – Cook, Dixon, Keegan Preis, Jack Schoenwetter
Saves – Gilman – Kyle Morris 13; Loyola – Jack Webb 9
Gilman 0 1 2 1 – 4
Loyola 4 2 3 4 – 13