Despite losing to St. Patrick on a last-second goal in Chicago on Wednesday, Loyola head coach Dan Hengelmann said it was the best game his team played this season.
That’s because the Ramblers remain a work in progress, and Hengelmann is looking forward to when Loyola becomes a more polished product.
“I am not worried at all about us,” he said. “We are trending in the right direction.”
The Shamrocks scored four goals in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner with 7.2 seconds left. According to Hengelmann, who called the Ramblers “extraordinarily inexperienced,” Loyola made “rookie mistakes” on defense in the second half. But they are all correctable, he said.
“We played a near perfect first half of defense, but they saw where we were weak and attacked us,” he said. “We were not able to adjust accordingly. What I like is that our problems are fixable.”
Senior Cole Morgan said a lack of big-game experience showed late in the game. Like Hengelmann, he said the Ramblers have the talent to be successful.
“We have to keep our focus for all four quarters, especially when we have a lead,” said Morgan, one of three captains, along with senior Zach Holecek and senior Quinn Carr. “That will come with playing more games. We definitely have the players to win a lot of games.”
Loyola (4-3-2, 2-2 MCAC) led 3-1 at the half and 5-3 after three quarters. But St. Patrick (4-3, 3-0) scored the first three goals of the fourth to take a 6-5 lead. The Ramblers tied the game with 19.9 seconds to go on junior Tony Spallone’s goal off an assist from junior John Merucci before the Shamrocks scored the game-winning.
After missing the second half of last season with a concussion, Morgan is one of the team’s offensive standouts. The team leader in assists scored two goals Wednesday.
“It’s good to be back,” he said.
Spallone also finished with two goals, while junior Charlie Freedman and Merucci both had one goal and one assist. Holecek had an assist. Merucci leads the team in goals.
Freshman goalie Jake Carr shined in the net. He made several spectacular saves in the first half, including blocking multiple shots at close range. He’s the first freshman to start full time in Hengelmann’s nine seasons.
Count Morgan among those impressed with Carr.
“He’s beating everybody’s expectations, and he keeps improving every game,” he said.