Three days after being derailed by Gilman, second-ranked Loyola got back on track yesterday and rolled past No. 5 St. Paul's, 15-3, in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game at Blakefield.
"I know [former St. Paul's coach] Mitch Whiteley was down watching us at Gilman and they probably were overconfident because they should have assumed that they could run by us based on what they saw in our last outing," said Dons coach Joe McFadden, referring to Loyola's 11-10 loss to Gilman on Tuesday.
"My head went down when they scored the opener, but the important thing was us scoring the next eight."
Senior attackman Dave Fields, one of the area's best players yet to commit to a college, raised his stock and his stats by scoring five goals.
Scott Diggs, who will attend Duke next season, added three goals and two assists for Loyola, and senior attackman Jason Rickel chipped in two goals and two assists.
"That midfield of Diggs, [Brian] Zeller and [Tim] Hahn is just tremendous. They're the best three middies around, no doubt about it," said St. Paul's first-year coach Rick Brocato.
"They moved the ball quickly in transition and they just kept the ball moving until it wound up in the goal and that's usually our game, but we weren't doing it today."
It wasn't for lack of effort. The Dons' defense just wouldn't allow it.
Chris Kakel (two goals) scored the opener just over a minute into the game, but the Dons countered with six unanswered first-quarter goals, including three by Fields.
Loyola (7-2) went up 8-1 on an extra-man goal by Zeller (two goals) with 5:29 left in the half, but then allowed the Crusaders (6-3) to cut the halftime lead to 8-3 on goals by Kakel and John Kneafsey.
Loyola's half-field defense, which left goalie Matt Enoch (10 saves) hanging out to dry on Tuesday, showed great improvement, much to the chagrin of the Crusaders' attack.
The Dons' defense held highly touted Tucker Radebaugh to one assist, but more importantly, kept St. Paul's off the scoreboard in the second half.
Fields' second goal of the second half put the hosts out front 11-3 with 4:57 left in the third quarter and Diggs gave the Dons a nine-goal cushion heading into the fourth when he scored on what was supposed to be a pass to Zeller.
Diggs completed his hat trick early in the fourth, but like the rest of the starters, left the game early.
"Loyola is a heck of a team and they're loaded, but this is a tough one to swallow," said Brocato, whose team will face a Loyola team from Chicago this weekend.
"Our goal is to get to the playoffs and we're still in the thick of things. I told my guys that 'we still control our own destiny.' Now, we just have to get it back together and see if we can get this train back on the tracks."