The Loyola Blakefield lacrosse team felt that if it could bring significantly more energy than visiting St. Paul’s to Friday’s game, things would work out.
The No. 4 Dons did just that, dominating possession by outworking the Crusaders on ground balls and on faceoffs. All that was left for the hosts to do was was consistently beat St. Paul’s sophomore goalie Jamie Grant, which finally happened in the fourth quarter
Led by senior captains Liam Bateman and Alex Reid, who combined to score seven goals for Loyola, the Dons turned a tight two-goal lead into an 11-5 win over the No. 8 Crusaders in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
Coming off an 8-7 upset loss at Archbishop Spalding on Tuesday, Loyola (7-2) evens its league mark to 1-1. St. Paul’s, which got a fine 12-save performance from Grant, falls to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in the MIAA A Conference.
After Tuesday’s loss, their first against the Cavaliers since 2008, the Dons made a point to play with more urgency and energy Friday. With Grant’s stellar first-half play, Loyola had only a 4-2 lead at halftime, then a 6-4 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Bateman and Reid scored the first four goals — two each — to help the Dons pull away.
Bateman, Reid and fellow captain Andrew Florenzo had a talk after Tuesday’s loss that set the tone for their improved play.
“I credit that last loss to myself and the other captains, because I think we really weren’t working hard enough as leaders on the team to get the team motivated before the game and keep them going throughout the whole game,” Bateman said. “So me and the other captains had a talk Tuesday night, and we said we had to become better and more vocal leaders to help motivate the team to get the wins.”
Leading 3-2 after the first quarter, the Dons saw Grant turn away seven straight shots before Ryan Lancaster made it 4-2 with 1:25 to play before the half.
Loyola coach Ben Rubeor was pleased to see how his Dons stayed persistent on attack.
“[Grant] made some big stops early, and I think you can respond two ways,” he said. “You can get discouraged or you can just keep at it. I thought we kept at and put it in some pretty good spots in the second half, and the ball started falling, and I think that was key for us in building the lead.”
While the Dons entered the game with added urgency after their loss to open conference play, the Crusaders had the chore of playing their first league game on the road against a hungry opponent. First-year coach Trey Whitty didn’t use that as an excuse.
“I didn’t think we were good anywhere on the field, and that falls on our coaching,” he said. “We didn’t have our guys emotionally ready to play and we didn’t coach them well enough in our game plan to execute it.”
The Dons got strong work from Will Koras on faceoffs, and Robbie Olsen finished with a goal and two assists, while Troy Barthelme added a goal an assist for the Crusaders.
Goals: SP — Zimnoch, Barthhelme, Cabral, Milani, Matthews; LB — Bateman 4, Hume 2, Reid 3, Olsen, Lancaster.
Assists: SP — Barthelme, Hall; LB — Olsen 2, J. Koras.
Saves: SP — Grant 12; LB — Lorber 2.
Half: LB, 4-2.