No. 2 Archbishop Curley visited 5th-ranked Loyola, Wednesday, on a muggy afternoon at Blakefield and had to battle from behind in the second half to pull out a hard-earned 2-1 MIAA A Conference soccer victory over the Dons, keeping the Friars undefeated in 2016.

Curley (5-0, 3-0) started fast, dominating play over the first seven minutes, but when the Friars were unable to convert on a handful of opportunities, they found the Dons (0-2, 0-2) more than willing to fight back. The game evened out for the remainder of the opening half and Loyola actually took it to Curley in the opening minutes of the second half, grabbing a 1-0 lead.

“I thought we came out playing pretty well. We moved the ball around. We had quite a few balls go through the box. We were just not in the right place at the right time,” said Curley coach Barry Stitz of his team’s play early in the contest. “I think part of that is waiting for the ball to drop at our foot, instead of doing what we’ve got to do to make a play in there. The game evened out midway through the first half and we fell behind early in the second half.”

The Loyola goal came on a nice finish by Matthew Lala with an assist from Marcei Desormeaux. Desormeaux made a run into some open space in the middle of the field and then slid a pass to the left wing and Lala drove it into the net.

Curley evened the score in the 49th minute with a goal from Alejandra Arbelaez. Junior Brandon Knapp drove a pass out to the right of box. Arbelaez settled, created space by spinning away from his defender, and ripped a bounding shot inside the far post.

“I saw Brandon had the ball on the left side and I just drifted outside. The ball bounced and I just had a volley and it went bottom left,” said Arbelaez of his game-tying goal. “I feel like in the first half we did well and then we got a little tired. Once they scored the first goal, we knew we had to come out stronger.”

The Friars go-ahead goal came off a set piece. Arbelaez drove a free kick to the end line, right of the goal where senior Nick Richardson crossed it into the box onto the waiting foot of junior Matt Brummett, who simply redirected it into an open net.

“When you get a good cross like that, I always know Nick is going to make a good run at that back post. As soon as I saw him, I made that run inside for the follow-up,” said Brummet in describing what proved to be the game winner. “We are going to need to come out strong every game and not start sluggish. If we come out strong, we need to continue that throughout the game and not drop off.”

Curley created a few more excellent opportunities in the middle of the second half, but a couple of outstanding saves from Loyola senior goalkeeper Chris Karpovitch, who finished with six stops, kept the Friars at bay. The Dons, in a frantic effort for the equalizer, created several scoring chances of their own in the final minutes, but the Friar defense and goalkeeper Nathan Wdzieczkowski weathered the storm.

Loyola coach Lee Tschantret, despite the loss, was pleased with the progress his team has made since its 3-0 season-opening loss at Mount St. Joseph last week.

“I thought we played really well. We made some corrections from the Mount St. Joe game and we brought it into this game. They are really starting to get it. It’s a unit coming together,” said Tschantret. “It was a great game and I think it was a game that could have gone either way. It was unfortunate to come out on the bad side of that one, even a tie would have been nice.”

Although happy with the win and his team’s undefeated status thus far, Stitz saw plenty of room for improvement in his squad.

“For the most part, we were not as clean as I would have liked. We played harder and got a bunch of chances and a couple of guys made big plays for us. But, we are falling into that habit a little bit of falling behind and deciding to pick it up then. You can’t play like that. It’s going to catch up to you.”

AC    0  2  —  2
LOY  0  1  —  1
AC-Arbelaez, Brummett; LOY-Lala.
ASSISTS: AC-Knapp, Richardson; LOY-Desormeaux.
SAVES: AC-Gentry 3, Wdzieczkowski 3; LOY-Karpovich 6.