By Chris Goldberg
TopLaxRecruits.com, Posted 3/7/14
PHILADELPHIA – Once again, Loyola Blakefield (MD) is the underdog.
The Dons, despite being the defending champions of the mighty Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, have been pegged by the pollsters as somewhere behind the league favorites.
But that’s the way the Dons like it. Today at Philly Inter-Ac League power Penn Charter, Loyola Blakefield opened with a 7-1 victory and spoke of a young team with much potential.
“I just think people are just underestimating us and we want to prove everyone wrong,” said Dons junior midfielder Ryan Conrad, a Virginia commit who had two goals and an assist. “They say we lost all our guys, but we’re ready to play. I think we can be pretty good.”
Last year the Dons emerged as league champion despite being seeded fourth while making the field on the last day heading into the playoffs. They stunned the nation’s No. 1 team, Boys’ Latin, for the crown, 10-9.
The score today was only 2-1 until midway through the third period mainly due to the brilliance of Penn Charter sophomore goalie Sean McKee, a Fairfield commit who stopped 15 of the first 17 Loyola Blakefield shots.
The Dons finally broke through as junior Jack Lombardo (two goals) and Cole Williams scored to make it 4-1 and then Will D’Angelo scored seconds into the final period to make it 5-1.
“It was a little bit of a sloppy game by us and we didn’t finish our opportunities,” said Conrad. “Their goalie made some good saves, but we just need to work on our finishing and putting them away.”
Loyola junior goalie Acie Newton (Brown commit) faced only three shots in the first half and closed with six saves.
Penn Charter’s lone goal came from senior Dean Roseman, who cut the deficit to 2-1 in the first period. Roseman, a senior midfielder headed to Richmond, soon went out with a separated shoulder, a tough loss for the Quakers.
“At certain points in the game we were (in it), but we have a lot of guys that haven’t played before,” said Penn Charter coach Pat McDonough. ‘For them it’s a little bit of a learning curve.
“We talked about getting better each day and making the next play. We have to build from it. We had opportunities and plenty of man-ups to make it a game.”
McDonogh said losing Roseman against a quality team like Loyola was a jolt. He also gave much credit to McKee for keeping the Quakers alive.
“Certainly, losing Dean Roseman didn’t help,” he said. “He’s our best midfielder. You take a guy like that out of our mix and that changes things.
“Sean played a great game. He certainly gave us a chance to win the game; that’s what we’re going to need day in and day from him. The offense will come around eventually and if the defense continues to play well we’ll be alright.”
Loyola Blakefield coach Jack Crawford admits his team is young, but capable. He said it may help that his team is not getting the pre-season hype.
“We did lose a good senior class,” Crawford said. “We’re young again this year.
“I think not having too much talk about you gives you a little more time to learn. This team has to learn against good competition and make mistakes. Today was an example of that, but I was happy that the work ethic was there.”
Crawford’s Dons have a murderous stretch of non-league games coming up. They host Haverford School (Ranked No. 2 in the Warrior/TopLaxRecruits.com Rankings) on Tuesday and defending Inter-Ac champion Malvern Prep (No. 19) next Saturday before meeting Long Island power St. Anthony’s (No. 5) March 21 at Penn’s Franklin Field in a night game.
“We have a tough non-league schedule as always,” Crawford said. “It seems this year it’s even tougher.
“We have Haverford and Malvern Prep and then we come back March 21 to play St. Anthony’s at Franklin Field. We have to grow up the hard way and make sure we get a lot of learning under our belts before the first league game.”
Notes – Pickett Riehl also scored for Loyola Blakefield.