One-goal games are some of the most exciting high school lacrosse has to offer. They normally feature two evenly matched teams, with either one capable of victory.
Except in No. 2 Loyola's case. In one-goal contests, the Dons always seem to come away with the victory, and yesterday was no exception, as they defeated No. 5 McDonogh, 6-5, in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game.
"They're not the games you typically want to play, but I guess it shows a lot about us," attackman Steele Stanwick said. "We got a lot of fight in us. We're finding ways to win, and that's what's important."
Stanwick (two goals, three assists) found space and fired the game-winner with less than three minutes left in the game for Loyola (10-3, 7-1). The Dons are 4-0 in one-goal games this season, with the other victories coming against A Conference rivals St. Paul's, Calvert Hall and St. Mary's.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the attention we pay to skill work and to little things, the importance of things that might seem minor but are really important in a one-goal game," Dons coach Jack Crawford said. "The importance of finishing a shot when you get it. The importance of making a good pass when you have to.
"I think that stuff after a while becomes second nature to kids, and it has paid off."
McDonogh (12-5, 3-4) took a 4-2 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to great efforts by its defense and staunch goaltending by Tyler Fiorito (11 saves). With 8:13 left in the fourth quarter, Loyola's Andrew Hargest found Alek Ferro in the middle of the defense for a quick goal.
With 6:32 left, Stanwick found a cutting Anthony Golden to tie the score, and a minute later he found Joe Cummings (two goals) close to the net. Cummings faked and scored for a 5-4 lead.
The Eagles answered with Sam Greenberg's goal with 3:44 left. After Stanwick's game-winner, McDonogh had possession but could not get a clean shot. Patrick Toohey fired with about 30 seconds left, but the shot was deflected.
The Dons' prowess in one-goal contests should bode well for them in the future, especially with the A Conference playoffs just two weeks away.
"Nobody can question the amount of fight our kids have. One-goal games can go either way, and I think we're really proud of the way that they have fought through some very tight games against good opponents," Crawford said. "That's the type of resilience you have to have going into the playoffs."