Although the MIAA A Conference postseason tournament officially begins late next week, Severn School lacrosse coach Joseph Christie said his squad has been in playoff mode for the past few weeks.
The No. 10 Admirals got a major boost in their pursuit of a coveted spot Tuesday afternoon. Severn defeated fifth-ranked Loyola Blakefield, 9-8, at Barbour Field in Anne Arundel County.
Andrew Beard’s goal with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in regulation was the difference for the Admirals (11-4 overall), who improved to 4-4 in the nation’s toughest high school boys lacrosse league. Severn sits one game behind No. 3 Boys’ Latin, fifth-ranked St. Paul’s and No. 6 St. Mary’s.
The trio are tied for fourth at 5-3 behind top-ranked and defending league champ McDonogh (7-1), Loyola (7-2) and No. 2 Calvert Hall (6-2). The top six teams in the standings at the end of the regular season Tuesday advances to the postseason tournament.
The Admirals are in play for their first postseason spot since 2019 as Beard’s 1-on-1 strike clinched only their second victory in the last 23 decisions over Loyola since 2003.
“We’ve been working for this moment all week and getting that final result is the greatest feeling ever,” said Beard, who had two goals. “We need to win the next two games to get a solid playoff spot.”
The Dons, who were undefeated in MIAA A play at the start of last week, have dropped two of their last three decisions.
“We were asleep,” said Dons coach Gene Ubriaco, whose squad owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with McDonogh, having defeated the Eagles, 14-13, on April 14. “We didn’t compete (for much of the game) like we did in the fourth quarter. I give the guys credit; we came back, but you’ve got to learn some lessons. When you don’t play with that intensity for the whole game in this league, it’s going to catch up with you.
“You almost have to be perfect in this league (to get the top seed), but we’ll see. We lost a game; we’ve got to deal with what’s ahead of us.”
Loyola will finish the 2023 campaign Tuesday against Calvert Hall, which will travel to Severn to face the Admirals Friday before they finish the regular season Tuesday with rival St. Mary’s also at Severn.
Severn played with a do-or-die mindset right from the opening whistle Tuesday as Nickolas Sotiropoulos secured the opening draw and then attacked the Loyola defense before finding an open Jacob Todd for a goal in the first eight seconds.
Todd produced a hat trick in the first quarter to stake the Admirals to a 3-2 lead while Lawrence Dring posted a pair of scores in the second quarter to power Severn to a 5-4 halftime advantage.
If not for the play of Dons goalkeeper Bennett Wright, that lead might have been a lot more as Severn fired off 19 first half of which Wright turned away nine and finished with 13 stops for the match. On the other side of the field, a balanced offensive attack by Loyola, four different players scored, including a diving shot in transition by Ty Bleach, kept the Dons within a goal at intermission.
Both teams fired off double-digit shots in the third quarter, but it was Severn that found the back of the net on three occasions to Loyola’s one for an 8-5 lead heading into the final 12 minutes. Beard, Tanner Hubrer, and Mason Ervin accounted for those three scores on a pair of 1-on-1 moves and a fastbreak off the face-off, respectively.
Ubriaco’s final instructions at halftime were for his squad to “start dictating play,” but that message didn’t seem to register with his squad until the fourth quarter with the Dons scoring three straight goals on a bounding shot by Owen Dixon, a 1-on-1 move from Mason Hill, and a whipping left-handed shot from Dixon (three goals) to knot the score at 8-8.
“When other teams might fold, and it’s easy for guys to go away, we talk about culture a lot, and I think it showed with us not panicking and making a play when we needed to, and it came down to the wire,” Christie said.
Indeed the match did as Severn was unable to run out the clock in the final minute, giving Loyola one last opportunity, but a potential game-tying goal by Matt Burnam in the closing seconds was waved off by the officials for Burnam being in the crease.
“Obviously, we needed this to stay in the mix in the league,” Christie said. “We’ve been saying backs against the wall for three weeks now. This evens us up at 4-4. I think you can look at it this way: we control our own destiny.”
NO. 10 SEVERN 9, NO. 4 LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD 8
Loyola 2 2 1 3 - 8
Severn 3 2 3 1 - 9
GOALS: Loyola - Owen Dixon 3, Mason Hill 2, Ty Bleach, Mason Cook, Luke Rush. Severn - Jacob Todd 3, Lawrence Dring 2, Andrew Beard 2, Mason Ervin, Tanner Huber.
ASSISTS: Loyola - Matt Burnam 2, Mason Hill, Mason Cook, Jake Doran. Severn - Jackson Barroll 2, Mason Ervin.
SAVES: Loyola Bennett Wright 13. Severn - Jackson Read 10.