Spalding just misses against Dons

Flat Loyola escapes, 1-0, despite Cavs' hard work

Boys soccer

September 23, 1999|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Not only does Loyola's near-flawless defense leave little margin for error for opposing offenses, it also can afford the Dons' own attack an occasional off-day.

Just how close to perfect has the defense of the No. 5-ranked Dons been so far this fall?

Yesterday afternoon's 1-0 win at Archbishop Spalding was Loyola's seventh shutout in eight games as it stayed unbeaten at 6-0-2 and improved to 4-0-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.

Midway through the second half, Loyola's Tony DiFonzo was in front to tap home a shot from Kevin Messedra after Glenn Antkowiak sent a cross in from the left side.

The goal came in the 61st minute as the Dons -- coming off Monday's emotional 0-0 tie against No. 2-ranked Archbishop Curley -- survived a scare from a Cavaliers team (1-5) that is working but not finding a reward.

"We were a little unfocused after playing the big game against Curley, and Spalding played hard," said Loyola coach Don Kraft. "We did what a good team does, and that's find a way to win on the road against a hustling team that was looking forward to an upset."

The Dons came out for the second half with a little more precision in their offensive end, capitalizing with DiFonzo's goal and then letting the defense hold off the Cavaliers' strong push in the final three minutes.

Pat Klein had the best chance late for the Cavaliers at the left post, one-touching a short pass from Louis Holko on goal. But Loyola keeper Shawn Huth had the angle covered.

"Shawn is the best keeper in the area. He just doesn't allow any soft goals. Our defense is our strong point and we're very stingy on giving up goals," said Kraft.

Before the game, Spalding coach Jose Florez talked about how close his team is to turning the corner. But nothing changed after yesterday's effort.

The Cavaliers stayed on even terms with the highly-touted Dons in the first half and after surrendering the game's only goal in the middle of the second, left nothing in their bid to find the equalizer.

"I'm happy the way we played. We had the effort, but we're still learning how to play under pressure," said Florez. "We created some plays in front of the goal but just need to execute a little faster. There's encouragement, because we're so close, and it won't take much more than what we're doing right now. We just have to turn these experiences into something positive."

The Cavaliers got a strong performance from sweeper Sean Wright and a tireless effort from midfielder Adam Tomas.

Along with Huth's work in goal, co-captains John Allecci and Mike Lookingland key the defense for the Dons.

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