Frustrating was the word that St. Mary's head soccer coach Tim Laur often used when explaining his team's 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference foe Loyola yesterday.
At the end of the first half, Laur was sure that his squad could come back from a 2-1 deficit. But after his players let the rugged style of play get the best of them, the wheels fell off of the comeback effort.
The visiting Dons (5-3-1 overall) notched two goals within the first 10 minutes of the second half to seal the Saints' fate.
"I just don't know what to say. This is really frustrating," said Laur.
"We have plenty of talent on this team, I just don't know what the problem is. I do know that although they're (Loyola) a good team, they sure aren't four goals better than we are."
Loyola jumped on the scoreboard 11 minutes into the first half. Senior co-captain Dan Donovan lofted a high-arcing shot toward Saints goalkeeper J.D. Gattie (nine saves). The junior net minder leaped to make the save, but the ball slipped through his hands and onto the waiting foot of junior striker Mike Tall, who scored the first of his game-high three goals.
A little more than two minutes later, the Saints knotted the game at one as midfielder Justin Dunbar hit a left-footed crossing-pass to Brad Stevens. The senior midfielder took the pass full-stride and whistled it past frozen Loyola goalkeeper Doug Renner.
For the next 20 minutes, both teams took their best stabs to score on the rain-soaked St. John's College field. A couple of minutes after Stevens' goal, Gattie thwarted a Loyola scoring attempt, making a brilliant punch save of a header by Donovan. Loyola substitute goalie Carey Schaub then returned the favor by snatching a scoring opportunity off of the foot of Paul Devine.
With seven minutes left in the opening stanza, Tall helped the Dons regain the lead for good with a right-footed low-liner through defensive traffic.
"Mike's been our go-to guy all year," said Loyola head coach Jim Claborn. "He's a good finisher, and he's very comfortable around the goal.
The other guys (Tall's teammates) know that if Mike gets the ball 12 or 18 yards from the goal, he'll find the net."
Tall placed another Donovan cross into the right corner of the net just three minutes into the second half. At the game's 48:15 mark, the Loyola star was tripped in the penalty box by fullback Paul Songy. Midfielder Greg Foti was rewarded with the penalty kick, as he punched a shot into the lower left corner, giving Loyola a commanding 4-1 lead.
Donovan (one goal, two assists) registered the Dons' final goal with 10 minutes left in the game.
"We practiced our man-to-man defense all week long, and we still had problems. I really thought we were going to take it to them during the second half. Obviously, I'm not doing enough to get these guys going," said Laur.
The rough, physical play by both teams resulted in more than just flaring tempers. Senior fullback Mike Synowiek went down hard near the end of the contest with an ankle injury, adding to Laur's problems.
"He's definitely one of our best defenders. We can't afford to lose him.
I think it was a result of the way the refs let things get out of hand.
Their coach is sitting there yelling about the things we're doing, but they were the ones throwing all of the cheap shots," said Laur.
St. Mary's conference record fell to 0-3-2.