Coming off an emotionally draining victory over second-ranked Gilman, the No. 4 Loyola lacrosse team would have preferred to breeze past the Admirals yesterday at Severn School.
But instead, the Dons had to dig deep once again to secure an 8-7 vic- tory and keep their Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference playoff hopes alive.
"I thought we were very, very flat," said Loyola coach Joe McFadden. "That Gilman game was emotional and the kids really left a lot out there, but my kids have never let me down. I would have liked to have seen us play harder today, but when we had to get it done in the second half, our defense made it pretty intense out there."
The intensity began to mount after a first half that ended in a 5-5 tie. The Dons opened the third-quarter scoring just over a minute into the period when senior midfielder Mike Keeney (two goals, one assist) scored an unassisted goal to give the visitors a 6-5 lead.
Matt Greer, who like all the Severn seniors was playing in his final home game, tied it at the 4:12 mark when he dug a loose ball out of the dirt and slapped it past Loyola goalkeeper Greg Zorella.
The Dons (12-3, 8-3) closed the scoring in the turnover-laden third quarter with a goal by senior midfielder Bill Evans. Evans' third and final goal was assisted by Keeney, but the unsung hero on the play was senior attackman Greg Hobelmann, who showed great restraint in deferring his shot and making the pass to Keeney (two, one).
Severn evened it at 7-7 with 7:40 left to play on a shot near the restraining line by senior attackman Dudley Dixon.
Loyola, which defeated Severn 12-6 earlier in the year, added what proved to be the winning goal with 7:07 remaining when senior attackman Jon Cusson scored on a feed from sophomore Brian Zeller.
The Admirals thought they had tied the score with 5:06 left, but Rob Duncan's goal was disallowed by the official, who ruled that he had blown the whistle on a loose-ball hold by the Dons. Severn was awarded possession but none of the Admirals' remaining shots would get past Zorella, who made five of his 21 saves in the waning minutes.
"We're in a situation where we know that we can't lose," said McFadden, whose team will be tested again when it plays host to Mount St. Joseph at 2 p.m. tomorrow. "We got to do what we got do and whatever else happens will happen.
"There are an awful lot of guys on our team who don't have the experience of being in the hunt. St. Paul's has a lot of guys who know what crunch time is, and I think we're learning real fast."
With his Admirals already out of postseason contention, Severn first-year coach Mike Burnett has had to settle for some moral victories, which his team has earned in its single-goal losses to Loyola and No. 1 St. Paul's, 12- 11.
"All we're trying to do is get better each week and I think we've been doing that," said Burnett. "I'm very proud of my kids because they played hard and they never gave up."