Dons finally solve a hot goalkeeper to pull away for an 11-5 win
by Gary Adornato
Loyola and St. Paul’s are two of the traditional blue bloods of MIAA A Conference lacrosse. But, in a year when the “new blood” of the conference has signaled it may be a force to reckon with, Friday’s showdown between the Dons and Crusaders was critical to both clubs.
Perhaps it was just a little more critical to the fourth-ranked Dons, who were upset in their league opener by Archbishop Spalding, on Tuesday, and they played like it, pulling away in the fourth quarter at Blakefield, to defeat the sixth-ranked Crusaders, 11-5.
Although Loyola claimed control of the contest with five fourth quarter scores, they dominated everywhere by the scoreboard throughout. The equalizer who kept the Crusaders within two heading into the final stanza was sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Grant, who was spectacular in making 12 saves, including seven in a brilliant second quarter.
Loyola’s offense was paced by senior midfielder Liam Bateman, who utilized a blistering shot to score four times. Senior line-mate Alex Reid added three goals and Connor Hume scored twice for the Dons. In addition, Robbie Olsen had a goal and two assists and Ryan Lancaster scored once.
Bateman scored the first two Loyola goals with the second one breaking a 1-1 tie and putting the Dons in front to stay.
“I had four goals, but I credit all of those goals to guys like Jack Koras, who gave me a great pick coming off the middle; Robbie Olsen had a nice assist to me, and really our whole system is working to get me open for the shots,” said Bateman.
The Dons had possession of the ball for what seemed like the entire second quarter and unleashed a barrage of shots at Grant, but the sophomore was spectacular, making one save after another, allowing only one goal in the quarter, an unassisted tally by Lancaster with just 1:25 left in the half.
“I thought that St. Paul’s team was very good defensively – a really, really good goalie and I thought they played well today,” said Loyola coach Ben Rubeor. “I was proud of our boys; they responded well and they fought hard. I thought Will Koras did a nice job at the face-off X to give us possessions and I thought we played smart offense.”
Loyola’s lead twice grew to as many as three goals in the third quarter, but a score by St. Paul’s junior attack Andrew Milani, midway through the quarter, pulled the Crusaders back within two, at 6-4. It stayed that way into the fourth.
Bateman’s third goal, early in the final quarter, finally ignited the Dons. Reid followed with his second of the day. Moments later, the two went back-to-back again, as Bateman got his fourth and Reid completed his hat-trick.
According to Bateman, the team focused on being ready to play after their loss at Spalding.
“Our mindset really wasn’t great coming off the bus at Spalding,” sad Bateman. “Coach talked about that all week, playing harder, playing more for the team. So, I think we were able to do a great job of that today by starting out strong.”
Hume completed Loyola’s scoring with an unassisted tally, with just under three minutes to play, stretching the lead to 11-4. Grant Matthews got St. Paul’s back on the scoreboard, with 1:01 left, and that set the final score. Andrew Caples, Logan Zimnoch and Chris Cabral also scored for the Crusaders.
First year St. Paul’s head coach Trey Whitty, coaching in his first league game with the Crusaders, was not pleased with his squad’s performance, outside of Grant.
“It wasn’t good,” said Whitty. “It starts with us as coaches. We didn’t have our guys ready to play. I felt fortunate to be down two going into the fourth, giving how we had played leading up to that. The fourth quarter was just a complete domination by them. We had one possession and that possession was maybe 20 seconds long. We scored a goal, but we didn’t have the ball the rest of the time.
“Jamie is great. He played phenomenal. He kept us in it. He was the reason we were only down two going into the final quarter.”
Loyola (6-3 overall) evened its league record at 1-1, while St. Paul’s fell to 3-4 overall and 0-1 in conference play. On Tuesday, the Dons will remain at home for a tough test with St. Mary’s, while St. Paul’s will return home to host Severn.
NO. 4 LOYOLA 11, NO. 6 ST. PAUL’S 5
GOALS: SP-Zimnoch, Barthhelme, Cabral, Milani, Matthews; LOY-Bateman 4, Hume 2, Reid 3, Olsen, Lancaster.
ASSISTS: SP-Barthelme, Hall; LOY-Olsen 2, J. Koras.
Saves: SP-Grant 12; LOY-Lorber 2.