VSN takes a deep dive into five contenders we feel had the best shot to claim the 2020 MIAA A lacrosse championship


Predictions are opinions, at best, and rankings, although rooted in results, are not much more.

At VSN we put our opinion on the line all the time with rankings in various sports. Sometimes we nail it and sometimes we are surprised. It’s the nature of the beast. So, to make predictions on what may have happened in the nation’s top high school lacrosse conference — the MIAA A Conference — during the 2020 season, which was suspended and ultimately canceled before we had released our first Top 20 poll of the season, would be nothing more than an educated opinion.

Thus, we decided to take a different approach.

VSN contributor Nelson Coffin, in consultation with our staff and longtime Baltimore lacrosse historian Mac Kennedy, identified five teams — Calvert Hall, McDonogh, Loyola, Boys’ Latin and Gilman — that we believe had an opportunity to walk away with the 2020 MIAA A Conference crown, and took a deep dive into these contenders.

We still believe one team, Calvert Hall, the three-time reigning champion, had an overwhelming chance (70%) to win again, but we did feel the others closed the gap ever so slightly, making it conceivable that Calvert Hall would not go undefeated again. And, if you believe they could have lost a game or two, you have to concede that one of those losses could have come in the playoffs or championship.

Again, if we were predicting the outcome, we would pick Calvert Hall, but we want you to make the ultimate decision by voting in an online poll on our Facebook Page (Click here to vote).

Beyond Calvert Hall, we believe three teams are close in talent and would have battled for the second spot in the conference, but we gave the nod in this regard to McDonogh. We gave the Eagles an 11% chance of winning the league. Loyola was our third choice at 9% and Boys’ Latin was third at 7%. Finally, we gave Gilman a 3% chance, which would only come about should they continually improve over the course of the season, get some breaks and make one of those historic playoff runs, which we have seen in the past in this league.

Our reasons for our percentages are explained in the deep dives, but again this is just our opinion. Evaluate our data and make your own call.


No. 1 CALVERT HALL COLLEGE (3-0 in 2020)

COACH: Bryan Kelly

CHANCES CARDINALS WOULD HAVE WON 2020 TITLE: 70%

2019 RECORD: 17-1, MIAA A Conference champions

2020 RECORD: 3-0

2019 REVIEW: The Cardinals pulled off something last year — an outright A Conference three-peat — that had not been done since Gilman claimed back-to-back-to-back MSA A Conference titles from 1948-50.

Only St. Paul’s pre-to-post WW II run from 1940-46 eclipses what Gilman and Calvert Hall accomplished, albeit 70 years apart.

By any measure, Calvert Hall’s romp through the A Conference in 2019 is difficult to compare with dominant teams of the past other than the Boys’ Latin’s 1997 juggernaut.

As chronicled on this website last June, the push-back from those who say that Bryan Kelly’s club may have benefitted from a down year in the A Conference comes from a closer look at the Cardinals’ main rivals.

Take, for instance, McDonogh, which fell to Calvert Hall, 15-11, in the regular season after rallying from an eight-goal deficit in the fourth quarter.

If the Eagles were an example of a team from a conference having an off year, it’s difficult to fathom how they were able pull off a 12-11 overtime win over Culver Academy — which shared the top spot in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse Final Top 25 High School Power Rankings with the Cardinals.

Moreover, McDonogh — ranked sixth in the final 2019 VSN Boys Lacrosse Top 20 after falling to Boys’ Latin in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs — also beat Washington (D.C.) Interstate Athletic Conference champ Bullis Prep, 9-7, and Philadelphia Inter-Ac runner-up Haveford, 13-8, which were placed fourth and 16th, respectively, in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse rankings.

Yet when the Eagles started facing A Conference rivals, they struggled mightily against that competition, bowing in succession to St. Paul’s, Loyola Blakefield, the Cardinals and Boys’ Latin before they finally stopped the bleeding.

Calvert Hall had no such problems, opening conference play with a 12-5 triumph over BL and running the table from there.

The closest any MIAA squad could come to the Cardinals were the Eagles and St. Mary’s during the regular season, both of which lost by four goals to them.

In the playoffs, though, Calvert Hall found another gear, blasting archival Loyola, 18-4, in a semifinal before building a 14-2 advantage and then cruising past St. Mary’s, 15-7.

2020 PREVIEW: Bryan Kelly says that it’s impossible to predict which team would have prevailed this spring, given the role that injuries play during a season.

If the A Conference would have restarted, Kelly said that he thinks his team “would have a shot to compete” for the program’s fourth consecutive and 10th overall title with a deep and talented roster.

An injury to a key player, though, “can change everything,” he said, even knowing his team earned the top spot in the national Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse High School Power Rankings in March.

And the possibility of a key injury undermines the thought of forecasting with any real accuracy.

However, Kelly knows that with with 2019 C. Markland Kelly Award winner Cole Herbert (126 career points) leading a strong midfield unit and his son, Daniel Kelly (218 careers points), quarterbacking the attack, the Cardinals returned enough firepower to keep rival defenders on their toes — if not their heels.

Throw in other such stalwarts as sophomore attackman Truitt Sunderland and new running mates, junior Ethan Long and freshman Joshua Kelly, helping to soothe the loss of Under Armour All American Jack Sawyer to graduation, and the Cardinals would present a major threat to score early and often.

Yes, the midfield would have felt the effects of not having the one-two punch of VSN Player of the Year Grant Mitchell and his brother, Connor, now with Ohio State, but there were several players who will help fill the void.

Speedster Josh Webber returned to buttress the group that also included Mic Kelly, who was off to a terrific start before play was halted.

The face-off duo of Tyler Dunn and Ham McPartland gave Calvert Hall a strong presence at the ‘X,’ which was a key for the champs last year.

Defense was to be another strong suit for the 2020 Cardinals, given the experience factor of senior goalie Jackson Marshall, returning for his third straight campaign between the pipes.

The defenders in front of the goalies were an aggressive bunch, spearheaded by senior Ryan Kilcoyne and sophomore JK Kelly.

Seniors Kainoa Sasaki and Aidan Fritz paced a defensive midfield while senior soccer standout Sean Barwick mades quite an impression as the team’s top long-stick middle.

Kelly said that he never mentioned the possibility of going for a fourth straight banner to the Cardinals.

“They’re competitive kids, so of course they want to win,” he said. “But we talk about the process, not about outcomes, and what it means to one a good teammate on and off the field while trying to be the best team we can be every day.”

CALVERT HALL COLLEGE PROJECTED LINEUP:
Name – Year – College (2019 stats)

Attack
Daniel Kelly – Sr. – Maryland (42 goals, 30 assists, 32 gbs)
Ethan Long – Jr. – Johns Hopkins (10 goals, 6 assists, 14 gbs)
Truitt Sunderland – Soph. – N/A (35 goals, 22 assists, 22 gbs)
Joshua Kelly – Fr. – N/A

Midfield
Cole Herbert – Sr. – North Carolina (18 goals, 39 assists, 48 gbs)
Josh Webber – Sr. – Towson (24 goals, 7 assists, 19 gbs)
Olen Huffman – Sr. – N/A (3 goals, 6 assists, 5 gbs)
Mic Kelly – Jr. – Denver (5 goals, 6 assists, 7 gbs)
Justin Mintzer – Sr. – Marquette (11 goals, 10 assists, 11 gbs)
Jordan Wray – Soph. – N/A (2 goals, 3 assists, 7 gbs)
Wyatt Hottle – Fr. – N/A
Max Sullivan – Sr. – Monmouth
Sam Swzeda – Jr. – N/A

FOGO
Tyler Dunn – Sr. – Johns Hopkins (96/126 faceoffs, 65%, 55 gbs)
Ham McPartland – Sr. – Salisbury (43/67 faceoffs, 64%, 21 gbs)

Defensive Middie
Kainoa Sasaki – Sr. – Navy (31 gbs)
Aidan Fritz – Sr. – Delaware (21 gbs)
Dan Reilly – Jr. – N/A (16 gbs)
Ray Glass – Sr. – N/A (19 gbs)
Matt Lubin – Soph. – N/A (7 gbs)
Liam Kammar – Jr. – N/A

Long-stick Middie
Sean Barwick- Sr. – James Maddison (for Soccer) (37 gbs)
Luke McAuliffe – Soph. – N/A

Defense
Ryan Kilcoyne – Sr. -Marquette (28 gbs)
JK Kelly – Soph. – N/A (13 gbs)
Brian King – Jr. – Army WP (8 gbs)
John Rigley – Sr. – Army WP (16 gbs)

Goalkeeper
Jackson Marshall – Sr. – Maryland (123 saves, 63%, 73 goals allowed)


No 2. MCDONOGH SCHOOL

COACH: Andy Hilgartner

CHANCES EAGLES WOULD HAVE WON 2020 TITLE: 11%

2019 RECORD: 12-5, MIAA A Conference quarterfinalists

2020 RECORD: 2-0

2019 REVIEW: Twice last spring the Eagles were the hottest team in the MIAA A Conference, starting the 2019 campaign with six straight wins and becoming the nation’s top-ranked squad after pulling off a 12-11 overtime win over Culver Academy — which shared the top spot in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse Final Top 25 High School Power Rankings with eventual A Conference champ Calvert Hall.

The Eagles also beat Washington (D.C.) Interstate Athletic Conference champ Bullis Prep, 9-7, and Philadelphia Inter-Ac runner-up Haveford, 13-8, which were placed fourth and 16th, respectively, in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse rankings.

Just as blazing hot as McDonogh was in those opening weeks last spring, its fortunes waned drastically against A Conference rivals.

The Eagles struggled mightily against that competition, bowing in succession to St. Paul’s, Loyola Blakefield, the Cardinals and Boys’ Latin before they finally stopped the bleeding and reeled off six straight conference wins to earn a playoff berth against the Lakers.

BL found a way to win that A Conference quarterfinal matchup as well, ending McDonogh’s wacky up-and-down season in disappointing fashion.

“People would ask me, ‘what’s going on? Do you have a lot of guys hurt,?’” Hilagartner remembered. “But that wasn’t really it. We had just been named No. 1 after beating Culver, and I think maybe we had been reading some of our press clippings. Then we lost to St. Paul’s, Loyola and ran into a buzzsaw at Calvert Hall. Then we lost by a goal to BL.”

Hilgartner, though, could take some solace in how his team reacted to the sudden downturn and found a way to postseason play.

“We never panicked,” he said. “We had given up a lot of goals that good teams don’t give up, but we adjusted. I was really proud of our guys.”

2020 PREVIEW: Like last year, McDonogh was hot early this spring, beating a pair of Washington-area powers Gonzaga (11th in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse Top 25) and Bullis Prep (12th).

And Hilgartner feels, that with 17 seniors dominating a 34-player roster, things might have turned out well for the Eagles in 2020.

“We are as athletic as we’ve been in a long time on defense,” the coach added.

With a senior, Ethan Robinson (UMBC), a junior, Scotty Hilgartner (Brown) and two sophomores, Malachi Jones and Aidan Hurdle, rotating on the backline, the Eagles felt they had the wherewithal to keep rivals offenses in check.

Moreover, the defensive middies figured to be fast and physical enough to complement the close defenders, the coach said about seniors Giovanni Procaccini and Cody Ince (Johns Hopkins).

The poles were set with U.S. Under-19 member Jackson Bonitz (Navy) and sophomore Jonny Cool taking control.

“Our D-middies and poles would have been a real strength,” Hilgartner said.

If sophomore Anthony Wilson’s first two game were any indication of how well he might do between the pipes, then the Eagles were in good shape at that position as well.

“He was good against Gonzaga,” the coach said. “And then he was really hot against Bullis.”

Senior face-off specialist Gable Braun (Virginia) was poised for his fourth straight strong season of securing the ball for an offense that could have been as good as any in the area.

Seniors J.P. Ward (Furman) and Harris Beattie (preferred football walk-on at Oregon) were poised to show the ropes to promising freshman McCabe Millon while the enemy defense also had to cope with a first midfield line of always-dangerous Dane Swanson (Navy), his senior running mate Scott Cole (Lehigh) and junior Dante Trader (Maryland).

Junior Jack Horrigan (Providence) was to add depth to the attack while senior Noah Beecher (Colorado College) and sophomores Hugh Brown and Matt McMillon were to man the second midfield trio.

Andy Hilgartner said that losing the season is especially difficult for the seniors.

“My wife and I were talking last night about how hard it is for the seniors and their parents to lose the season because it’s such a special time,” he said, noting that the Hilgartners enjoyed watching son Matt (Penn) finish his high school career last year with the Eagles. “My heart breaks for those guys.”

MCDONOGH SCHOOL PROJECTED LINEUP:
Name – Year – College (2019 stats)

Attack
J.P. Ward – Sr. – Furman (13 goals, 9 assists)
Harrison Beattie – Sr. – Oregon (for Football) (15 goals, 5 assists)
McCabe Millon – Fr. – N/A
Jack Horrigan – Jr. – Providence (7 goals, 2 assists)

Midfield
Dane Swanson – Sr. – Navy (33 goals, 3 assists)
Scott Cole – Sr. – Lehigh (24 goals, 5 assists)
Dante Trader – Jr. – Maryland
Jack Dudas – Jr. – Bucknell (4 goals)
Noah Beecher – Sr. – Colorado College (3 goals, 4 assists)
Hugh Brown – Soph. – N/A (3 goals)
Matt McMillan – Soph. – N/A

FOGO
Gable Braun – Sr. – Virginia (6 goals)

Defensive Middie
Cody Ince – Sr. – Johns Hopkins (1 goal, 1 assist)
Gio. Procaccini – Sr. – Salisbury School

Long-stick Middie
Jackson Bonitz – Sr. – Navy (6 goals, 1 assist)
Jonny Cool – Soph. – N/A
Aidan Hurdle – Soph. – N/A

Defense
Ethan Robinson – Sr. – UMBC
Scotty Hilgartner – Jr. – Brown (2 goals, 16 gbs, 16 cts)
Malachi Jones – Soph. – N/A

Goalkeeper
Anthony Wilson – Soph. – N/A


No. 3 LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD (3-0 in 2020)

COACH: Gene Ubriaco

CHANCES DONS WOULD HAVE WON 2020 TITLE: 9%

2019 RECORD: 10-7, MIAA A Conference semifinalists

2019 REVIEW: Coach Gene Ubriaco’s first year at the helm proved to be a positive one, considering that only two seniors — defenseman Jarrod King (Utah) and midfielder Alex Breschi (North Carolina) — commanded starting spots for the Dons.

Nevertheless, Ubriaco was able to coax double-digit wins and a trip to the MIAA A Conference semifinal round in his debut campaign for a team with plenty of underclassmen learning on the fly.

Unfortunately for Loyola, archival Calvert Hall proved to be a major stumbling block for the Dons and the rest of the league.

“If you look at the results of all the games last year, it was apparent that Calvert Hall was really performing at a different level than the rest of the league,” Ubriaco said.

Having to play the Cardinals in both the regular season finale and in the playoffs was a difficult assignment to say the least.

That said, Loyola showed its ability to win close games in 2019 with a pair of one-goal victories over St. Paul’s and a 10-8 verdict over McDonogh.

“McDonogh was a huge game for us,” Ubriaco said. “We hadn’t beaten them in a long time, so that game meant a lot to us. It got the boys to start believing in themselves.”

The Dons proved versatile enough to rely on the defense to stymie the Eagles and to dismiss the Crusaders, 6-5, late in the season after revving up the offense to top St. Paul’s, 13-12, earlier.

And yet there were hiccups as well, which is not unusual for such a young squad.

A 15-8 pasting by Boys’ Latin comes to mind as one of the low points for the Dons last spring as well as a pair of lopsided losses to Calvert Hall.

“We invested in many of our young players and had them learn on the job which allowed them to return in 2020 as hardened MIAA veterans,” Ubriaco said. “We were looking forward to seeing their progress (in 2020).”

2020 PREVIEW: Things appeared to be on the upswing for the Dons, who began the season with three straight wins and had a head of steam heading into a meeting with Malvern Prep before the season was halted.

A win over the Philadelphia powerhouse would have most likely vaulted Loyola into the Top 10 of the national Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse High School Power Rankings.

Loyola was ranked No. 16, nine slots behind Malvern Prep before the shut down.

Now, Unbriaco and his Dons can only dream of what may have been in store for them this spring in the A Conference.

The coach said that with his team having another year’s seasoning and maturity, things could have fallen into place.

“I think we would have had a good shot,” Ubriaco said. “We really had a lot of high hopes.”

Considering the quality and depth the Dons could bring to each encounter, there were plenty of reasons for optimism.

The starting attack boasted three Division I recruits in senior Chase Llewellyn (Georgetown) and juniors Charlie Koras (Maryland) and Henry Tolker (Navy).

Seniors Jack Koras (Maryland), Kevin Tucker (Maryland), Matt Dixon (Loyola Maryland) were slated to run on the first midfield line with senior Henry Moag and juniors Hayden Miller (Marquette) and Matt Rice (Fairfield) on the second unit.

Jack Koras led the Dons with a whopping 48 goals and 26 assists in 2019 while finishing second in ground balls with 42.

Shortsticks included seniors Ben Tomick (Dickinson) and Ryan Lancaster (Fairfield) and junior Michael Haus, with seniors Dave Lamarca (Marquette) and Parker Keeney and junior John Rineman wielding poles.

The face-off duo of junior Ian Geesaman and sophomore Cole Myers figured to make its presence felt in a positive manner after performing admirably in 2019.

The close defense was to feature junior Kevin Doyle and a pair of promising sophomores in 6-foot-4 lefty Bill Dwan and AJ Larkin.

The goal was to be ably guarded by senior starter Kevin Ellington (Delaware) and juniors John Webb and Max Emde.

“Our mission this year was to get over the hump,” Ubriaco said. “I think we would have been right there.”

LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD PROJECTED LINEUP:
Name – Year – College (2019 stats)

Attack
Chase Llewellyn – Sr. – Georgetown (20 goals, 12 assists, 22 gbs)
Henry Tolker – Jr. – Navy (15 goals, 8 assists, 10 gbs)
Charlie Koras – Jr. – Maryland (32 goals, 16 assists, 25 gbs)

Midfield
Kevin Tucker – Sr. – Maryland (22 goals, 10 assists, 21 gbs)
Jack Koras – Sr. – Maryland (48 goals, 26 assists, 42 gbs)
Matt Dixon – Sr. – Loyola (8 goals, 5 assists, 20 gbs)
Ryan Lancaster – Sr. – Fairfield (8 goals, 4 assists, 30gbs
Hayden Miller – Jr. – Marquette (6 goals, 3 assists, 14 gbs)
Ben Tomick – Sr. – Dickinson (7 goals, 2 assists, 9 gbs)
Henry Moag – Sr. – N/A

FOGO
Ian Geesaman – Jr. – N/A
Cole Myers – Soph. – N/A

Long-stick Middie
Dave Lamarca – Sr. – Marquette (5 goals, 3 assists, 48 gbs, 28 cts)

Defense
AJ Larkin – Soph. – N/A (2 assists, 24 gbs, 18 cts)
Parker Keeney – Sr. – Salisbury (2 goals, 16 gbs, 16 cts)
Bill Dwan – Soph. – N/A

Goalkeeper
Kevin Ellington – Sr. – Delaware (224 saves, 61% )


No. 4 BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL

COACH: Brian Farrell

CHANCES LAKERS WOULD HAVE WON 2020 TITLE: 7%

2019 RECORD: 12-7, A Conference semifinalist

2020 RECORD: 1-1

2019 REVIEW: After suffering a tough late-season loss to Archbishop Spalding, the Lakers regrouped and defeated longtime rivals Gilman and St. Paul’s, each by just one goal, to qualify for the playoffs.

BL avenged an earlier season loss by defeating McDonogh in the MIAA quarterfinal round before running into a stifling St. Mary’s defense in an 11-5 loss to the Saints, who eventually lost to Calvert Hall in the A Conference championship game.

Yet the season might have been quite different if the Lakers didn’t lose standout attackman Brendan Grimes to a back injury for the entire campaign.

Not having Grimes, who is one of the 25 players selected to play in the U.S. in World Lacrosse Men’s U19 World Championship next summer in Ireland, was a blow the Lakers did their best to overcome.

The best evidence of that was when BL spotted McDonogh the first three goals in the playoff opener and then cruised past the Eagles, 13-9, in seemingly effortless fashion.

2020 PREVIEW: Farrell had loads of talent returning this spring, buttressed by an influx of players from BL’s JV champs to add additional depth coming up through the ranks.

With that in mind, the Lakers were seriously considered to be able to compete for the A Conference crown, even though it would have been difficult to replace leading scorer Cam Spencer (25 goals, 49 assists) — an exceptional athlete who averaged 10 points and three assists per game for the Loyola Maryland basketball team this winter while earning Patriot League All-Rookie Team honors.

Yet with Grimes returning to the team — he scored his 100th goal earlier this season — playing with sophomore Dom Pietramala, a tough hard-nosed southpaw scoring machine, rival defenses had to be in top form to keep that prolific duo in check.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, it was déjà vu all over again for the attack when it suffered another serious blow in preseason workouts when highly touted junior Ben Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Competition to replace Smith would have come from three-sport athlete Riar Schell, fellow returning lettermen Garrett Glatz and Grant Voigt.

Cagey veteran lefty Zach Crain and freshman Jackson Walsh were vying for playing time, as well.

The defense figured to be anchored by returning lockdown close defender Blake Gable.

The BL ‘D’ also had talent returning in close defenseman Blake Gonzalez, along with poles AJ Hernandez, Eddie Loyd and Braden McClure.

All three poles were also going to be rotated to close position at times during the season.

Talented freshman Kyle Foster was also going to be in the defensive mix.

JT Morton was the returning starter in the goal, although 2019 JV starter Cardin Stoller was slated to be in the mix as well.

Farrell realized that any hopes for another title returning to Lake Avenue would rest with the midfield, and that unit started with main FOGO Mac Moreland.

The experience and talent was also evident on the first line with Cole Erickson and Ryan Evans leading the cause.

However, a lack of depth between the restraining lines might have been some cause for concern, even though other returning middies, Ryan Spilman, Lowell Hairston, Justin Waters and Colby Weishaar were preparing to heed the call to procure possessions for the talented attack unit in order to make any type of serious run at the three-time defending champ Calvert Hall.

BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL PROJECTED LINEUP:
Name – Year – College (2019 stats)

Attack
Brendan Grimes – Sr. – Johns Hopkins (61 goals,13 assists in 2018)
Zach Crain – Sr. – Sewanee (2 goals, 5 assists, 4 gbs)
Dom Pietramala – Soph. – N/A (33 goals, 10 assists, 19 gbs)
Riar Schell – Jr. – Delaware (8 goals, 8 assists, 16 gbs)
Jackson Walsh – Fr. – N/A

Attack/Midfield
Garrett Glatz – Jr. – Navy (27 goals, 3 assists, 11 gbs)
Grant Voigt – Sr. – Lynchburg (2 goals, 1 assist, 3 gbs)

Midfield
Ryan Evans – Sr. – Johns Hopkins (13 goals, 4 assists, 13 gbs)
Lowell Hairston – Sr. – Bates
Ryan Spilman – Jr. – Richmond (5 goals, 1 assist, 4 gbs)
Colby Weishaar – Sr. UMBC
Cole Erickson – Sr. – Army WP (12 goals, 3 assists, 18 gbs)
Justin Waters – Sr. – Stonehill (for Football)

FOGO
Mac Moreland – Jr. – N/A (169-350 faceoffs, 48%, 3 goals, 2 assists, 78 gbs)

Long-stick Middie
AJ Hernandez – Jr. – Ohio State (2 assists, 20 gbs, 6 cts)
Braden McClure – Sr. – Richmond (2 goals, 35 gbs, 14 cts)
Eddie Lloyd – Jr. – N/A (18 gbs, 9 cts)

Defense
Kyle Foster – Fr. – N/A
Blake Gable – Sr. – North Carolina – (1 assist, 30 gbs, 11 cts)
Blake Gonzalez – Sr. – St. Joseph’s (4 gbs, 3 cts)
Stewart Moxley – Sr. – Sewanee

Goalkeeper
JT Morton – Sr. – Colorado Mesa (183 saves, .55% save percentage)


No. 5 GILMAN SCHOOL

COACH: John Nostrant

CHANCES GREYHOUNDS WOULD HAVE WON 2020 TITLE: 3%

2019 RECORD: 9-7

2020 RECORD: 1-1

2019 REVIEW: Like several other MIAA A Conference rivals, the Greyhounds’ hot streaks were countered by setbacks at inopportune times.

They started the season with the confidence of a title contender by holding their own against the Hill Academy (12-9 loss) and Washington (D.C.) Interstate Athletic Conference champ Bullis Prep (8-7 loss) while edging Georgetown Prep, 9-8.

Then came a string of victories over Brophy Prep (Ariz.), Episcopal Academy (Pa.), Hereford, Severn, Mount St. Joseph and Archbishop Spalding before an 8-6 setback to eventual A Conference runner-up St. Mary’s started a two-game slide that included a 14-11 loss to St. Paul’s.

Gilman then pulled off what was probably its most impressive performance of the year by upending Loyola Blakefield, 14-13, in overtime.

At that point, the Greyhounds were 4-2 in conference play and smelling a playoff berth that still seemed to be within their grasp after falling, 15-7, to three-time defending champ Calvert Hall and whipping John Carroll, 17-8, for coach Brooks Matthews in his final year at the helm.

Needing just one win in their final two contests against either Boys’ Latin or archival McDonogh to extend its season, Gilman came up short both times to finish out of the running to claim the program’s first title since 2011.

With a break or two, what might have been for Gilman, wasn’t.

2020 PREVIEW: Would the new regime under former Haverford School (Pa.) coach John Nostrant have fared better this spring?

For one thing, there’s no question that Nostrant is capable of winning at the highest level, as evidenced by his stellar record at the suburban Philadelphia private school.

He guided the Fords to 488 wins and a pair of No. 1 finishes in national rankings during his 28-year tenure.

Moreover, he said that he made a point of getting to know his players on an individual basis last summer — and he liked what he learned.

If senior leadership would be a major factor, then the Greyhounds would have had plenty of that to rely on with 23 impending graduates on the roster.

“I think we would have had more offense this year,” Nostrant said.

That rejuvenated offense was to be led by senior attackmen Sam King (Harvard), Casey Doyle (Notre Dame) and Jack Totolani (Denver) and junior Charlie Pope, with senior midfielders Dutch Furlong (Bucknell), Billy Spilman (Yale), Pierce Washburn (Marquette), Max Carneal (Colorado College) and Matt Spencer (Colorado College) adding to the mix.

Junior middies Jake Tompkins and Tucker Hebert figured to join the fun as well.

Senior FOGO Nick Tussing (Washington and Lee) was to be a mainstay at the ‘X.’

Senior defensive middies Fen Colston, Jacob Korczakowski, Pearson Harrington (Connecticut College) and George Cassels-Smith were to receive a baptism of fire this spring with Nostrant confident that their improvement was looming.

“These are really athletic kids who didn’t play that much as juniors,” he said. “I really like this group.”

The poles featured senior Wallace Halpert (Georgetown) and juniors Remi Reynolds and Capp Reynolds, who are not related.

Senior Essex Thayer and sophomore Kyle Morris were planning to split goaltending chores for the Greyhounds.

“I think that last year, they may have been carrying the burden of not making the playoffs for four of five years,” Nostrant said. “But this team was very capable of making the playoffs, because they knew what my expectations of coming to practice 20 minutes early and staying 20 minutes late were. They were beginning to understand that’s what it takes, and then people would have started talking about Gilman lacrosse again.”

GILMAN SCHOOL PROJECTED LINEUP:
Name – Year – College (2019 stats)

Attack
Sam King – Sr. – Harvard (30 goals, 15 assists)
Casey Doyle – Sr. – Notre Dame (7 goals, 7 assists)
Jack Tortolani – Sr. – Denver (9 goals, 9 assists)
Charlie Pope – Jr. – N/A

Attack/Midfield
Dutch Furlong – Sr. – Bucknell (12 goals, 12 assists)
Tucker Hebert – Jr. – N/A

Midfield
Billy Spilman – Sr. – Yale (14 goals, 9 assists)
Pierce Washburn – Sr. – Marquette (9 goals, 1 assist)
Max Carneal – Sr. – Colorado College
Jake Tompkins – Jr. – N/A
Matt Spencer – Sr. – Colorado College (2 goals)
Jake Korczakowski – Sr. – N/A
Fen Colston – Sr. – N/A (2 goals)
G. Cassels-Smith – Sr. – N/A

FOGO
Nick Tussing – Sr. – Washington & Lee

Long-stick Middie
Wallace Halpert – Sr. – Georgetown (2 goals, 36 gbs)
Remi Reynolds – Jr. – N/A
Capp Reynolds – Jr. – N/A

Defense
Jack Stuzin – Sr. – Yale
Jack Witherspoon – Sr. – Syracuse
Tom Martinson – Sr. – Harvard

Goalkeeper
Essex Thayer – Sr. – N/A
Kyle Morris – Soph. – N/A