Loyola Gets Sweet Revenge in Hard-Fought Semifinal Game
Loyola enters this match against Servite, the team that defeated them in the finals last season, energized. Though one of the Loyola captains senior Nate Smith-Hastie is sidelined today with an ankle injury, the team looks ready to play. For most of the beginning of the first half Loyola looked on form, but Servite matched them and the teams battled evenly for about twenty minutes. The referee was involved a lot in the beginning of this game, both teams getting multiple calls for and against them. By the 20th minute Loyola seemed to hold a slight edge, but neither team had more than one solid chance to score. However, at the pace these teams were playing one could only expect a goal opportunity to manifest at any time. Both teams’ defenses were shutting out opportunities and defending set pieces well. Both teams were playing with a lot of heart and both teams also were growing frustrated in their continued attempts to pull away in this game. Around the 30th minute, Loyola consecutively turned the ball over and Servite had the opportunity to dominate the ball. The Loyola defense was holding on but in the 34th minute they gave up a dangerous free kick right outside the box. Servite was unable to make anything of this attempt, but as the ball bounced around on Loyola’s end they were finally able to get the ball out and counterattack. Loyola got a clean header attempt on the goal, but the Servite keeper saved it routinely. As the half drew to a close Loyola went on the attack pressuring Servite defenders. Senior James Redington went on a run and set up junior Caden Ambrose with a shot, but Servite’s keeper made a solid save to keep the game scoreless going into halftime. Servite came out the gates strong after halftime, commanding the momentum with their energy both on and off the field. Finally Loyola was able to stay calm and make a play. They played the ball up to senior Spencer Roberts and he went on a run, shaking up the Servite defenders and pushing the ball past the keeper for the first goal of the game. Loyola goes up 1-0 in the 47th minute! Servite played similar to how they were playing before the goal, but the noise from the Servite side of the arena was silenced by that goal. Servite seemed to lose momentum with the loss of cheering from their bench. For most of the second half Loyola tried to possess the ball and close out the sizable amount of time left in the game. With ten minutes left in the game Servite got a string of corner kick opportunities with multiple shots just offline, one even passing the Loyola keeper but hitting the post. Loyola pulled through this offensive onslaught from Servite and went back to controlling the ball in the midfield. In the 72nd minute Loyola seemed to change their focus from just possessing the ball to playing a mainly defensive game. Loyola was able to stop a Servite attack and counter with a great run from freshman Marco Bottene that ended in what seemed to be a foul in the box, but the referee had other plans and showed the yellow card to the Loyola spectators. With just about 3 minutes left in the game both teams were playing hard, proving how much they want this game. Keeper Cabral Carter made yet another great save to deny a long throw goal opportunity. As Loyola retained the ball in the midfield, the game ended in a resounding 1-0 revenge match victory that advances the Cubs once again to the CIF finals!