That start of Wednesday night’s game at Oak Park was delayed a bit, but the visiting Loyola Cubs wasted no time once the first whistle blew.
Junior attack Sean Smith (pictured above), who doubles as Loyola’s primary faceoff man, won the opening draw to himself, sprinted into the box, delivered it to a teammate at X, who promptly gave it right back. Smith buried the shot from the left wing for a 1-0 Cubs lead just 15 seconds into the game.
Two hours and 36 goals later, No. 2 Loyola had a 22-15 victory over the No. 4 Eagles. And with all due respect to Oak Park, which is a very talented team, it really wasn’t that close.
Loyola led 6-1 after one quarter, 14-6 at halftime and 19-10 after three quarters. A three-goal burst by the Eagles to open the fourth made it 19-13 and raised the prospect of a thrilling comeback, but Loyola quickly reasserted itself.
The Cubs dominated possession in the early going, winning both faceoffs and ground-ball scrums. Defensively, Loyola’s trapping zone was as active as ever, limiting Oak Park’s looks at the cage and forcing a lot of balls to the turf.
In fairness, Oak Park was missing a couple of players to illness, including a starting defender, but it probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference. Loyola came out firing on all cylinders and pressed the pace relentlessly at both ends of the field.
Smith scored at least four goals (it honestly became difficult to keep track) for Loyola, and John Parducci, Jonathan Partamian and Michael Lira each had at least two. Full stats for the Cubs weren’t available.
Junior middie Brendan Egan led the Eagles with four goals, and Griffin Hughes, Ryan Shorts, Owen Consoletti and Max Bulko had two each.