In what has become an annual fall classic, Loyola and Calvert Hall battled for the MIAA water polo championship once again on Saturday afternoon, at McDonogh, and it was another fierce competition between these long-time rivals. After three quarters the score was deadlocked, 6-6, but that’s when Loyola junior Cameron James took over, scoring three goals in two minutes to propel the Dons to their second consecutive championship with a 10-6 victory over the Cardinals.
James put the Dons up 7-6 at 5:20 on an assist from Alex Porter, and he made it 8-6 at 3:44 on a feed from Oliver Bennett. Fourteen seconds later, James gave the Dons an insurmountable 9-6 lead, and the Loyola defense made his great fourth quarter display stand up. The Don defense held the Hall scoreless for the final eight minutes.
“I got some open spots and made some quick drives,” said James.
Loyola coach Keith Schertle said that just two weeks ago, he wasn’t sure how much James would play down the stretch.
“He started playing well in our last two games, and he proved today that he can play,” said Schertle, who has won 16 consecutive MSA/MIAA swimming championships at Loyola, to go with the pair water polo crowns.
“He made six or seven steals and got down the pool,” added the veteran coach.
Calvert Hall was trailing 3-2 at the half, as both teams played strong defense. Both Loyola goalie Cole Linder and Hall net-minder Ben Wiese were outstanding all day.
Linder finished with eight saves, and Wiese had seven. Schertle said that Linder is All-MIAA material.
Loyola’s Kevin Balhoff and Michale Fiehe opened the scoring in the third quarter to give the Dons a 5-2 lead, and it looked like they might pull away, but Cardinal sophomore Matt Rothman scored two lightning-like goals for coach Mark Rich, and the Hall was back in the game.
Loyola senior leader Oliver Bennett, who had three goals on the day (Bennett had five in the last meeting with the Hall) scored with 2:28 to go in the third to give the Dons a 6-4 lead, but a determined Calvert Hall squad wouldn’t quit. Carpenter Warren scored at 2:13, and Steve Roberts tied the game with 24 seconds left in the quarter, before James took over for Loyola.
“That’s right where we wanted them, tied going into the fourth quarter” said first year Hall coach Mark Rich. “We’re probably not in the shape that they’re in.”
Wiese said that the Hall played really well, “We came out with a lot of intensity, and we executed on offense, and our defense was locked down.”
“It was really intense,” said Rothman. “They’re a great team, they’re really in shape.”
Linder said he was blessed to be on a team so god as Loyola, and Bennet said that the day held special meaning.
Schertle said that from the beginning of the year he thought he had a pretty good team.
“Good speed, good chemistry, nice passing, and Cole in the goal.”
Pretty good was pretty great on Saturday as Loyola finished the MIAA season by going undefeated in regular season, and in the playoffs.
The Dons beat Mount St. Joseph earlier in the day, 11-6, and Calvert Hall defeated McDonogh,16-12. Those semifinal wins allowed Loyola and Calvert Hall to advance to the championship.
To view videos, click the Related Videos link above.
|Loyola 10, Calvert Hall 6|
CH-Warren 2, Rothman 2, Roberts, Cuppucio; LOY-James 4, Bennett 3, Bahoff, Feihe, McDonald.
CH-Wiese 7; LOY-Linder 8..