Worth the wait: Loyola Blakefield lacrosse beats Gilman, 13-4, in season opener

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Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun
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For the Loyola Blakefield lacrosse team, it had been one thing after another getting in the way of preparing for and then starting the season.

There was a 10-day pause because of COVID-19 issues after the second day of practice and two scrimmages cancelled, and then last week’s season opener against Boys’ Latin was pushed back.

Finally, the Dons stepped onto the field Tuesday to take on visiting Gilman, with questions waiting to be answered.

The positive replies were plentiful.

Senior Henry Tolker (five goals) and freshman Mason Cook (three goals, one assist) paced the attack and senior goalie Jack Webb finished with nine saves in anchoring a strong defensive effort as Loyola claimed a 13-4 win over the Greyhounds in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.

Loyola is 1-0 heading into next Tuesday’s league game against St. Mary’s, while Gilman (0-2) will try to bounce back Thursday when it hosts Delaware power Cape Henlopen.

Dons coach Gene Ubriaco is comforted by a senior class of 23 players and saw highly competitive practices, but was still unsure of what he would see Tuesday.

“Very pleased and, honestly, I didn’t know what to expect because we haven’t had an opponent,” he said. “I’ve been thinking that what I’ve been watching every day in practice has been highly competitive and good. But until you actually have an opponent, you really don’t have a great sample size.”

The Dons wasted no time getting the season started on a high note, pouring in the game’s first four goals and taking a 6-1 advantage into the half when Cook scored in front of the net with 1.3 seconds to play in the second quarter.

After the Greyhounds made a push to start the third quarter — Jake Tompkins and Clayton Badley scoring 34 seconds apart to make it 6-3 — Tolker stopped the momentum with his third goal of the game less than two minutes later.

The Dons led 7-3 with 7:54 left in the third and scored the next five to take complete control of the game.

“I would just credit that to the fact we have 23 seniors on the team. A lot of these guys have been there before and they know the MIAA — you’re never safe, you’re never comfortable,” Ubriaco said. “So I think we had a couple big goals to respond — [Tolker’s] goal when they went on that run was a huge one and then from there it brought all our momentum back and we were able to get hold of a cushion.”

Tolker was happy to see the Dons make the most of their opportunity getting back on the field.

“I think we played really well right from the start — going up big on them 4-0. [We had] a lot of transition opportunities, defense played really great and the offense was clicking too,” he said. “It felt great. Coming out here being with the team is great for me and I know my teammates also appreciated being out here.”

The Greyhounds, who got a 13-save performance from junior goalie Kyle Morris, took a step back after opening the season last week with a 10-9 loss to Calvert Hall, which has won the past three league titles.

Gilman coach John Nostrant didn’t see his Greyhounds bring the same effort in their second game.

“It was 6-1 at half, we made it 6-3 and maybe we could have made it 6-4, but just lack of hustle, lack of experience, a lot of those things,” he said. “But we got to grow up in a hurry, got to work harder and have to compete more. Loyola is a really good team. … We have enough pieces where we shouldn’t be losing by nine goals, so we’ll just keep working on things.”

Goals: G – Wilkerson, Tompkins 2, Badley; LB – Tolker 5, Larkin, Cook 3, Dixon 2, Gravante, Zuranski.

Assists: G – Hebert, Woloson; LB – Schoenwetter, Cook, Dixon, Preis.

Saves: G – Morris 13; LB – Webb 9.

Half: LB, 6-1