Towson striker Ian Wildey wasn't sure he would play until hours before game time yesterday.
Sporting a silver splint that covered a "severely fractured" left ring finger, the senior had been warned by doctors to sit it out and not risk further damage.
But Wildey decided to ignore the warnings. Fourteenth-ranked Loch Raven wishes he hadn't.
Broken finger and all, Wildey played end-to-end soccer and scored a hat trick to lead the Generals to a 4-1 win in the Baltimore County 1A-2A League.
The injury, which he suffered last week against Owings Mills, didn't affect Wildey until the game's waning moments, when he slipped and fell on his hand.
He said he had contemplated sitting out, but decided to play when he realized the game's importance.
"[When the injury first occurred] I looked down and it was just hanging there," said Wildey, the Generals' leading scorer. "The doctor said not to play, but I felt like I had to. This was Loch Raven."
Wildey was just a part of Towson's dominating performance against the Raiders. The Generals outshot them 16-10 and consistently beat them to loose balls.
"Ian and [midfielder] Spencer Ford were the keys to the game," said Loch Raven coach Sam Nuttall. "They ran the full field, offensive and defensive, so we were outnumbered everywhere. The shots that [Wildey] made were dynamite. He was hitting the upper corner, lower corner. He knows how to finish it off."
Wildey attributed his team's play to coach Randy Dase.
After scanning the newly released Top 15 in yesterday morning's Baltimore Sun, Dase saw his team hadn't broken into the rankings. He made several copies of the poll, enlarging it and circling the names of county foes Dulaney and Loch Raven (4-2, 4-2), co-No. 14 in the poll.
He then wrote the word "RESPECT" on the top of each copy -- to signify the apparent lack of it for his team -- and posted the copies around school.
By the time the Generals (4-0, 4-0) took the field, they were fired up and took it out on the Raiders.
"Sometimes you've got to plant a seed," Dase said, "and I think this one worked pretty well. I felt that the season was on the line today. We had to extinguish Loch Raven.
"Our region is so tough that you could lose one game and still not get in [to the state playoffs]."
From the outset, Towson looked well-aware of that fact.
After Loch Raven's Lee Sorvalis just missed a goal when his 15-yard attempt brushed off the top of the crossbar, Wildey scored the first of his three goals off a pass from Ryan Cuomo with 13:43 left in the half.
Chi-Chi Giraldo made it 2-0 minutes later, firing a shot from 20 yards out and beating goalie Joe Russell to his right. Wildey made it 4-0 with two second-half goals before the Raiders' Mike D'Angelo scored midway through the second half.
Wildey said he was thrilled with his performance.
"I've never had a hat trick against a team as good as this," Wildey said. "It felt great. We were just so fired up today. I think it was a huge win for us, coming in and completely outplaying them."