The top-ranked Loyola Cubs are in the midst of perhaps the most dominant dynasty LA lacrosse has seen. We say the most dominant because Loyola is the only LA team to win the US Lacrosse Southern Section championship, and the Cubs have done it three years in a row. We say in the midst of because it doesn’t appear Loyola is slowing down.
Last spring, Loyola beat Palos Verdes in the LA championship game for the third consecutive season, then beat Orange County champion St. Margaret’s in overtime to claim the section crown. In successive season, the Cubs have beaten Corona del Mar (2016), Foothill (2017) and St. Margaret’s for the section title — the three most dominant programs in Orange County history.
That, of course, is the past. The present suggests that the future might hold more of the same for the Cubs, who were a unanimous No. 1 in the MaxLaxLA coaches poll, with 33 ballots submitted.
Loyola returns at least 10 starters or significant contributors from last year’s squad and has depth and experience at all levels except one — it’s face-off unit. Four-year starter Aidan Hesse (Tufts) was named All-American and the area player of the year last season, and the Cubs will turn to sophomore Matt Gottfried in his place.
The Cubs return their entire starting defensive unit, anchored by senior All-American goalie Will Parducci, who is committed to Babson. In front of him will be seniors Will Kupiec (first-team All-Mission League and All-Area), who is committed to MIT, and Colin Hawkins (second-team All-Mission), who is committed to Trinity, and junior Shane McAusland (first-team All-Mission, second-team All-Area). For good measure, Loyola has senior goalie Cam Bieler, who is committed to D-I St. John’s, in reserve.
The offense is equally well stocked, with senior Kaiser Fry (first-team All-Mission and All-Area), a Trinity commit, junior Alex Horowitz (second-team All-Mission) and senior Jack Carolan, a Southwestern commit, on the attack line.
Senior All-American Speed Fry (first-team All-Mission and All-area) returns in the midfield, and he will be surrounded by players with both experience and accolades: Sophomore Owen Gaffney, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime of the section title game; senior Ronan Gallagher, who is committed to Kenyon; and junior Matt Garvey, who played significant minutes as a sophomore.
Beyond all of that, Coach Seth Cohen listed off a handful more players he expects to contribute this spring: Sophomore LSM Preston Barnes; senior defensive middie Hunter Ballard, who is committed to play football at SMU next year; senior LSM Thomas Gonzalez; and senior defenseman James Zarifes, who is committed to Kenyon.
As usual, Loyola is playing one of the toughest schedules in California, Cohen said.
The Cubs will face six teams ranked in the Top 10 of the LA coaches poll, along with top Orange County teams Foothill, St. Margaret’s, Santa Margarita Catholic and San Clemente, as well as in-state powerhouses Torrey Pines and St. Ignatius. Loyola also will play host to Eastlake (Washington) and travel to New York to take on Fordham Prep and New York Class B State champion Garden City, currently ranked No. 7 in the country by Inside Lacrosse.
“We’re hopeful that the weekly challenges will help propel us back to the championship game,” Cohen said via email. “With so much returning talent it should be a fun season.”