No. 3 Loyola broke a rare two-game losing streak and captured the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division I title by edging top-ranked St. Mary's, 4-3, yesterday at Loyola.
Both teams will play in Tuesday's conference semifinals, but yesterday's win earned Loyola (7-3, 7-3) the home-field advantage against St. Paul's. St. Mary's (11-3, 7-3) will travel to Boys' Latin, which won Division II.
Loyola and St. Mary's finished with 7-3 league marks, but Loyola won the division because it beat St. Mary's both times the two teams met.
"This was a real big game for us," said Loyola coach Joe McFadden, whose teams have won six of the past eight titles. "We had lost our last two, and one thing we didn't want was our confidence to be to the point that we'd start worrying whether we could win one."
Loyola took the lead for good in yesterday's defensive struggle with 4 minutes, 12 seconds left in the third quarter, when junior attackman Mike Boyle shook a defender and put in a shot from close range to make it 4-3.
From that point, Loyola's defense did the job, particularly junior defenseman Chris Ginter, who ended the game by diving into the crease to stop a long desperation shot by Ryan Kelly of St. Mary's.
Ginter's diving play capped a solid performance against David Jones of St. Mary's, who had four goals in the teams' first meeting, which Loyola won, 11-10, in overtime.
"C.J. was the horse for us," said McFadden. "We put him out front in the middle against Jones. We knew we weren't going to come out and score 10 or 15 goals. We expected it to take some good defense to win, and it did."