Loyola entered the third round of the CIF playoffs against Capistrano Valley after winning a tight game against Santa Barbara. Just like Santa Barbara, Capistrano came out of the gates swinging. Capistrano scored a goal in the first minute of the game. Loyola didn’t back down however, senior captain Nate Smith-Hastie crossed the ball to freshmen Marco Bottene who evened up the score in the fifth minute. Capistrano’s attacks were proving difficult to deal with, but Loyola counterattacked time and time again, returning the pressure right back on their opponents. Both teams pressed high on defense, even this early on in the game it was evident that this game would be decided by possession. Both teams were battling to string together passes. The teams went back and forth attacking each other but towards the end of the second half it definitely seemed like Loyola held the momentum. They were reading the opponents’ offense and making big plays on defense. On the attacking end they created numerous opportunities and you can’t help but think that eventually one of these chances will find the back of the net. The score going into halftime remained 1-1. The second half started with attacking opportunities for both teams. It seemed that the energy level in this game was only heightened by the beginning of the second half. Both teams played aggressively in the second half but neither team was able to gain an advantage as the score was still even in the 63rd minute of the match. Around that same time Capistrano had a perfect opportunity to score but the shot was just over the crossbar. Loyola’s defense has been playing an outstanding game against a team that has an attack just as menacing as their own. With regular time winding down, both teams got multiple looks on the goal. The Cubs had several corner kicks in the final minutes that could have been converted into goals. Finally, in the 78th minute junior Alejandro Sanchez powered through in a crowded corner kick opportunity and gave Loyola a 2-1 advantage. As the field and the stands erupted with emotion. The game turned scrappy as Loyola defended against a desperate team. However, Loyola was resolute in their efforts to control the game in the final moments and came out victorious with a 2-1 final score. Loyola will advance to play Servite in the semifinals. The Cubs are now one of the four!
-Dominic Elrington ‘21