Commentary

Gilman comes back to top La Salle in OT

Updated: March 26, 2009, 9:20 AM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

BALTIMORE -- When Jack Doyle and Tyler Knarr laid down their sticks for the game-opening faceoff Wednesday, a dream matchup appeared to be in the making as Inside Lacrosse No. 1 Gilman (Baltimore) played host to No. 2 La Salle College (Philadelphia).

However, that was about the last time Gilman's Doyle and La Salle's Knarr -- two of the nation's top midfield prospects -- came in contact with each other.

Knarr, a Georgetown signee who is recovering from a right ACL tear sustained at the end of the 2008 lacrosse season, was not assigned to guard the Harvard-bound Doyle, as expected.

The La Salle staff decided to put the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Knarr on Gilman's Greg McBride, while sending Tyler Houchins to guard Doyle. Freeing Knarr from Doyle allowed Knarr to be more involved in the transition game, his specialty.

Before the match, lacrosse experts felt a Doyle-vs.-Knarr matchup would hold the key to victory for one of these high school powerhouses. While they did not match up against each other in the game, both players still found ways to keep their teams in position to win.

Knarr won nearly 90 percent of the first-half faceoffs, which helped La Salle build a 5-1 halftime lead. Doyle, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored the final two regulation goals as Gilman rallied from a four-goal halftime deficit to tie the match at seven before winning 8-7 in overtime.

"Definitely, I wanted [that matchup]," Doyle said. "But they had a good long pole. He [Houchins] had me in the first half."

Knarr, who wears a knee brace, didn't mind that the matchup with Doyle never materialized.

"Transition and line play is where I play well," Knarr said. "Playing shut-down matchup defense is not my thing."

Sheldon Shealer covers high school sports for ESPN RISE.