It didn't matter to the Oakland Mills soccer team that Loyola came into yesterday's game fresh off a shutout victory over No. 2 Calvert Hall.
Nor did it matter that the Dons had last year handed the Scorpions one of their two losses in a season that saw them win the Class 2A state title.
The way forward Jason Gotis described it, fourth-ranked Oakland Mills' 4-2 victory over No. 12 Loyola -- its first over the Dons in five years -- was expected, even demanded.
When you're looking to repeat as champions, anything else just won't do.
"We're just trying to take this season one game at a time," said Gotis. "We have 15 seniors, and this is supposed to be our year. We just have to go out and do it."
Yesterday, Gotis did his part picking up two assists on throw-ins, as the host Scorpions (4-0) built a 3-0 lead after staving off several scoring chances from the Dons.
Forward Balazs Doyle helped stake his team to a 2-0 lead by halftime, scoring off throw-ins twice in the first 30 minutes.
Though Loyola (3-3) got off six shots in the first half, including at least three narrowly missed bullets from U.S. under-17 national team player Mike Potempa, it didn't score until 11:36 was left in the game.
Dons coach Jim Claborn said the effort wasn't a completely fair representation of his team, because he used the game to give some of his lesser-used players a chance to gain experience.
"We're playing for our league championship, not for rankings," said Claborn, who held back his first-string goalie and used a handful of players who hadn't seen action this season.
"We came out here to give the guys who don't get into competitive league games a chance to play."
After a back-and-forth first half, Oakland Mills began to take command after halftime. The Scorpions' defense, which has allowed 14 goals in its last 22 games dating to last season, turned up the heat and stalled a number of Loyola possessions near midfield.
Their offense, meanwhile, began to control the ball.
"I think it was just our conditioning," said Doyle. "We practice hard and then we come out and play hard in the games. We wanted this win."
Pat Jackson and Mike Capizzi added late goals for Loyola -- both off assists from Adam Green -- but the final outcome was never in doubt.
It was a much different game than last year's 2-1 Loyola victory, and somewhat uncharacteristic of the eight-year rivalry between the two teams, which has featured two ties and several one-goal games.
"Traditionally, these are very, very close games," said Oakland Mills coach Don Shea. "This was a good win for us."