Coming off a disappointing loss as the playoffs loom, Loyola boys lacrosse coach Jack Crawford challenged his talented senior class to take ownership of the team during this home stretch.
After Tuesday's 11-6 win at No. 8 Severn, it was apparent the No. 2 Dons are in good hands.
Scoring the game's first seven goals and playing well at both ends, Loyola took charge from the start and never let the Admirals get settled to come away with an important Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference win. The Dons, who got three goals from senior Deemer Class and eight saves from senior goalie Chris Thomas, improved to 13-3 overall and 5-2 in league play with two games remaining in the regular season.
Severn, which lost one-goal games to No. 1 Calvert Hall and No. 3 Boys' Latin in the past week, dropped its fourth straight league game to fall to 14-5 and 3-4.
The Dons came into Tuesday's game motivated by Saturday's loss to St. Mary's and a loss at Severn last season. Getting goals from five players on their eight possessions in the first half, they built a 5-0 lead with the help of four saves from Thomas. The lead increased to 7-0 before the Admirals scored with 2:22 left in the half. But Loyola senior Mike Distler quickly erased any potential momentum for the home team with a goal a minute later for an 8-1 halftime lead.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game to win, and we knew if we didn't get a good start, it was going to be a tough afternoon for us," Crawford said. "So I was very happy with the way we paced ourselves and how smart we were with our decision on offense, and I was very pleased with the way we communicated and supported to the ball defensively."
What pleased Crawford the most was the way the team responded and contributed, with the seniors taking on the lead role as asked.
The team's attack was precise and balanced, while the defense provided no openings for the Admirals.
"Coming off that loss, we knew that this was a must-win game — we had two [league] losses and they had three losses," Class said. "This is our last shot to get to the championship, and this was a must-win game. You could really feel it on the bus ride over here that everyone was ready to go. The coaches were fired up, and we came out and played well."
The Admirals, who got two goals from Hunter Gray and one goal and two assists from Nick Manis, will try to bounce back at home against St. Mary's on Friday in what coach Brian Wood called a must-win game for his team to qualify for the playoffs.
"You've got to give Loyola credit. They're a very athletic team and they brought their athleticism today, and they ran by us and we couldn't run by them," Wood said. "They finished their opportunities and they were able to grind it out one goal at a time and held us scoreless, and we got behind the eight ball."
Goals: L—Class 3, Conrad, Neubauer 2, O'Toole, Dalton, Distler, Clothier, Hardwick; S—Gray 2, Manis, Dennin, DeStefano, Lamon.
Assists: L—Clise; S—O'Malley, Manis 2.
Saves: L—Thomas 8; S—Frey 6.
Half: L, 8-1