Last spring, Loyola's Trae Rodgers suffered what he called "a freak accident" during the preseason, one that nearly forced the premature end to a year spent as a reserve lacrosse goalie.
Rodgers' mother, Marcie, said the injury -- a stress fracture to his spine -- may have been the result of roughhousing with his younger sister, Taylor, and was compounded by a snowboarding accident.
Yesterday, however, the 5-foot-6, 120-pound junior was the backbone of the third-ranked Dons' 11-8 victory over McDonogh, the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champ, in Division I action.
Rodgers made six of his 18 saves during man-down situations and assisted on one critical goal. Eighth-ranked McDonogh (5-3, 3-3) had a 16-4 advantage in faceoffs, led by midfielder Andrew Bond (one goal), but was 0-for-8 during extra-man situations.
During one third-period sequence, when Loyola (6-1, 4-1) was down a man, Rodgers cradled a point-blank shot, then cleared it all the way past the McDonogh defense to teammate Andy White, who was one-on-one with Eagles' keeper Devon Bates (five saves).
White simply ran behind Bates for an easy bounce shot into the net's far side, his game-high fourth goal, quelling a 3-0 run by McDonogh for a 9-5 lead 4: 18 before the fourth period.
"They were giving us a real fight in the second half, but I give my defense a lot of credit," said Rodgers, 17, referring to Ricky Schultz, Mike McKenna (one goal), Brad Wright, Tim Sullivan and Matt Pinto.
Mike Alfone had two goals and an assist, Brian Miller contributed with one goal and two assists and Devon Weatherly two assists for the Dons, who converted their first four goals on six shots en route to a 5-1 first-period lead.
McDonogh was led by Jed Prossner (two goals, two assists), Pat Shek (one, one) and Mason Goodhand, the latter bringing his team within 10-8 on his team-high third goal with 7: 28 left to play.
"We lacked intensity in the first half, but I'm proud of the way we got back into it," said McDonogh coach Jake Reed.
No. 2 St. Paul's 10, No. 11 Severn 6: Brendan Gill scored three goals and assisted on another to lead the Crusaders (4-1) over the Admirals (2-3) in an MIAA A Conference Division I game.