In a match up of the last two LA/OC Championship games, St Margaret’s went on the road to beat Loyola 11-9. Loyola was ranked number one in CIF SS Division 1 polls recently and St Margaret’s was 7. Matt Groeninger had five points (3g, 2a) to lead all scorers and Sebastien Chicas had 11 saves including six in the decisive fourth quarter to pace the Tartans.
Loyola’s Robert Roges, wasted no time in announcing that he would be a factor in this game as he scored the first of his three goals to give the Cubs an early 1-0 advantage. The Tartans came right back with four unanswered goals. Groeninger (no. 9 above) Seth Forstot and Will Stahl followed Groeninger with their own unassisted goals to give the Tartans a 4-1 lead. Stahl drew the pole but still had two goals on the day.
The Tartans the first two unassisted and seemed to be in control with a 4-1. However, the Cubs responded by scoring four of the next five goals setting the back and forth pattern pace the game would follow. Roge and Owen Gaffney scored to make the score 4-3 in favor of St. Margaret’s by the end of the first quarter. Luc Dumont and Gaffney scored the next two to give Loyola a 5-4 lead early in the second quarter.
Gaffney will attend Harvard next year and this kid is the real deal. He had two goals on the day but the scorebook doesn’t show his impact. He was shut off, covered with the pole and faced a zone so he had an impact all day as he opened it up for others. His skip passes and feeds were just on another level. Been watching him for 4 years and he’s legit no doubt.
Before the second half expired Makai Todd (2g, 1a) had back to back goals and Riley Chester (1g, 1a) added one for the Tartans while Dumont and Matteo Silvestri scored for the Cubs. At the half. 8-7 and these two rivals were getting down on a perfect day in LA.
Loyola won 75% of face offs but Hayden Chester did a nice job as pole taking faceoffs for the Tartans. He caused turn overs and got some key wins. FOGO for Loyola was very good, big kid played well.
Owen Binder had back to backers in a low scoring third quarter to make it 10-7 after Q3. The St. Margaret’s D pitched a shut out in the quarter as they buckled down. Shane Dzwilewski has drawn top match ups and basically has shut his guy down this year while Halen Hickman-Goveia once again had a few nice take aways at close D and dodged in the clear when it was needed to break the 10 man ride. He’s been a spark in the last two games.
Roge and Aidan Lee scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to draw the Cubs within one at 10-9. It was fast play and big hits galore out there. Didn’t catch the number but someone from St Margaret’s on face off crushed a Loyola player on a big big hit (legal) forcing your humble reporter to jump from his seat as neutral observer just enjoying the competition. Loyola had some big hits too. It went both ways. Neither of these teams will back down.
At 10-9 enter Sebastian “SeaBass” Chicas. With 5:30 left in the game he made two monster saves. First was 1 vs 1 as attackman came around from behind and Chicas got either his shoulder or stick on it from point blank rage. Huge save. Seconds later Gaffney unloaded a 10-yard rip and Chicas made the stop low and away. He wasn’t done. With 1:15 remaining still at 10-9 he made another big stop on a 10 yard rip from the wing that had smoke coming off it. 11 saves on the day for the junior who had a whale of a day.
Groeninger hit Stahl for a behind the back goal to make it 11-9 final.
Side note: St. Margaret’s Freshman Jojo Samluk at 10-9 got matched up 1 v1 with Gaffney on a switch and did a really nice job stopping the dodge. A double team came after Gaffney re dodged it resulted it a key turn over. Game much faster than this youngster has ever seen and he hung tough at 10-9 with the outcome still in question.
Credit to both coaching staffs. Great fire power on the sidelines as far as coaching resumes. In a time in SoCal lacrosse where there seems to be some hype vs reality on coaching it’s easy to take opinion out of it and state facts as far as actual success. Loyola coach Jimmy Burrell has won 11 the last 15 LA county titles, he’s been winning for 15 years while his assistant Romar Denis of Loyola University was mentored by Coach Marc Van Arsdale of Loyola U and UVA who is widely considered one of the best offensive minds in college lacrosse over the last 20 years. St. Margaret’s brings second year head coach Brian Kelly who comes from the NCAA coaching ranks as well as Tom Groeninger who has been involved in several OC titles and LA/OC championships the past few years. Can’t argue with what these coaches have done, fact based.
Tip of the cap and thanks to classy Loyola HS for letting Devin Arkison cover the game for Maxlax ! Very accommodating, great day to be a lax fan!