The Ramblers lost their first game of the season Saturday, but it was a game head coach John Dwyer said his team should have won.

Disagreement in a new rule’s interpretation on offensive spacing and penalties factored into St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes’ 16-14 win, according to Dwyer. At even strength, Loyola owned a one-goal advantage.

“That’s how close we are to one of the best teams in the country,” he said.

The Saints, of Alexandria, Virginia, were ranked No. 5 in USA Today’s preseason poll, but the Ramblers (8-1) were right there with them the entire game.

Down 11-9 at the half, Loyola fell behind by five three times in the second half before rallying with three consecutive goals at the end.

Senior Brennan Dwyer and senior Madison Kane both scored five goals, while senior Mary Dooley added three goals in the loss. The Ramblers dominated the draw control, winning 20 of 30 faceoffs. Dwyer won 15 of them.

In Saturday’s first game, Loyola earned a 16-8 victory over Robinson, a two-time defending state champion in Virginia.

Dwyer led the offense with five goals. Senior Grace Clarke, senior Libby Germano, senior Caroline Witkowski and Kane each scored two goals apiece.

Dwyer said senior goalie Delaney Oliveira starred in the net.

“Starting with the second half against Georgetown Visitation [on Friday], she’s played out of her mind,” Dwyer said. “She got us going [Saturday] morning, and she gave us a chance to win against St. Stephen’s. That’s all you can ask for.”

Loyola wraps up its East Coast trip Sunday with a game against Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland. Dwyer said he hopes the players have “some legs left.”

Nevertheless, Dwyer said he’s happy with how the Ramblers have competed against some of the nation’s top teams. In addition to St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, Georgetown Visitation garnered preseason notice by USA Today with its No. 11 ranking.

“It’s hard to tell until we get here how prepared we are for this level of play,” Dwyer said. “But we like where we are right now. We played extremely well [Saturday].”