Tuesday night Loyola High School traveled down to Aliso Niguel to take on the surging Wolverines. The crowd even featured UCLA head football coach Jim Mora rooting on his son, Loyola freshman midfielder Ryder Mora (1 goal, 1 assist).
The game started fast and demonstrated the athleticism of Aliso with the Wolverines taking an early 2-0 lead. Loyola quickly countered with hustle and a far better effort on loose balls, knotting the score at 2-2. The score at the end of the first quarter was Loyola 4, Aliso 3. Loyola’s sophomore attackman Sean Smith led the first quarter scoring with two goals (ending the night with four goals).
The 2nd quarter began with more pressure from Loyola’s zone defense and far superior clearing ability. Loyola was able to out hustle Aliso for almost every ground ball and Sean Smith was able to figure out Aliso’s FOGO Michael Marino. The Cubs went on a five goal run that extended from the 1st quarter until deep into the 2nd quarter. Aliso’s sophomore middie Garrett Hoang stop the the bleeding with an assist from junior attack Jonah Rinaldi (1 goal, 3 assists) to end the half at 7-4, Loyola.
Loyola’s defense was clearly aware of Rinaldi’s reputation and was focused on trying to minimize him. Rinaldi was able to stay active as usual but the supporting cast appeared to be confused on how to attack the Loyola zone, leaving the Wolverines’ offense stagnant and easily defended.
The Cubs took advantage of some impressive halftime adjustments by their coaching staff and dominated the early second half with five unanswered goals that extended their lead to 12-4.
Aliso was able to stop the bleeding with two minutes left in the 3rd quarter with a score by senior middie Stevie Barron (3 goals), fed by senior middie James Murphy, his first game back after missing four games with an ankle injury (2 goals, 2 assists). Reinvigorated by the Barron goal, the Wolverines picked up the pace and began to perform with the offensive movement that has brought them so much success this season. The Wolverines followed the Barron goal with four more to close the gap to 12-10 Loyola with 3:32 left in the game. During the run, Wolverine FOGO Marino was able to make adjustments and win face-offs once again.
Senior attack Alex Peck (4 goals) responded for the Cubs with a goal that seemed to take the life out of the home crowd with 59 seconds left in the game. Aliso continued to fight with a late goal by sophomore attack Jake Lombardo (1 goal) assisted by d pole-do everything- senior Conner Reed (1 goal, 1 assist) ending the game at Loyola 13, Aliso 11.
Loyola is on the road again, taking on Palisades on Thursday, while Aliso has a bit of a break before they head back into league play where they travel to Capistrano Valley on Tuesday, April 15th.
Stars of the game:
1. Sean Smith, Loyola: Sophomore attackman Smith had four goals and gave Aliso fits at the faceoff X.
2. Austin Stahl, Aliso: The junior goalie kept the Loyola offense in check with at least 10 first half saves. Final stats were not confirmed but his spectacular play continued in the second half.
3. Connor Reed, Aliso: The senior continued to take on the task of guarding the opponent’s top threat while demonstrating his ability to generate offense as well.
–Special to MaxLaxOC.com, courtesy Aliso Niguel