With his offense still struggling for goals, Brad Riviera could use more defensive efforts like the one he received yesterday at Loyola.
What the Archbishop Spalding boys soccer coach also could use, however, is better luck.
Or more cloud cover.
Sophomore keeper Chris Badaczewski failed to hold onto a shot from Loyola co-captain Dan Donovan with 12 minutes remaining, and junior midfielder Greg Foti tapped in the loose ball to give the Dons a 1-0 victory in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference game.
Loyola is 4-3-1 overall, 3-1-1 in the league. Spalding, in its first year in the A Conference, is 1-3-1, 1-2-1.
Badaczewski was momentarily blinded by the sun as he reached for Donovan's floater and lost sight of the ball. Foti did not, and the result was another close defeat.
The Cavaliers were coming off a 2-1 loss to Calvert Hall.
"It was very unfortunate," Riviera said of yesterday's mishap. "It was an easy ball. He had it right there and lost it. Other than that, we played very well."
Badaczewski made a diving stop seconds after the Foti goal, one of his seven saves on the day. He was aided greatly by the alert play of his fullbacks.
"Our defense is playing super," said junior fullback Todd Swann. "Win or lose, we have to play like this. In any situation, it always comes back to (the defense)."
Riviera said, "My defense is playing really well now. We can hold a team, but we can't score."
Spalding has seven goals in five games. All but one have come from junior striker Pat Mohr.
Loyola controlled the ball for most of the first half, but could do little with it. The Dons repeatedly drove down the middle of the field, where the Spalding defense was packed tightly.
The Dons also were guilty of over-passing, failing to take the open shot despite constant pleas from their coach, Jim Claborn.
Loyola only held a 7-6 edge in shots at the half-way mark.
"They were looking for the perfect goal on the perfect shot off the perfect pass. And that's not going to happen," Claborn said.
"Look how we scored. It was a chip that the goalie had a handle on, misplayed and our kid was hustling and happened to be in the right place at the right time and put the ball in the net. It wasn't pretty, but it was still 1-0."
The Cavalier defenders seemed to take turns making the big play, especially in the opening half.
First, it was Swann knocking down a Paul Chryssikos shot. Then, sophomore Zack Wood stripped the ball from Mike Gately, who had taken a Mike Tall pass and turned to shoot.
After Foti was wide left with a direct kick, teammate Marshall Robers fired a shot on goal that Swann deflected to senior Brian Huster, who cleared the ball downfield.
Soon after, Swann and junior Ron Santana sandwiched Gately as he made a move toward the goal. And when Tall maneuvered around a couple defenders and circled to the middle -- where else? -- Spalding sophomore David Tomaszeiwski stepped in and cleared the ball.
And on it went, until Foti, with the help of the sun, broke the scoreless tie.
"You can outplay a team like I thought we did today," Claborn said, "and the end result could be a loss. It's a matter of putting the ball in the goal and we didn't do it. We didn't capitalize.
"They could have won that game 1-0 just as easily as we did. That was going through my mind, and it was a scary thought."