By many measures, Loyola head coach Baer Fisher has enjoyed a successful start to his career with the Ramblers.
He’s posted three winning seasons, compiling a 41-19-3 record, and made three trips to the Class 3A regional final. Fisher said this is the most complete team and could be the one that captures the program’s first regional championship since 2008.
The Ramblers got off to a strong start Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Lake View in Glenview. Senior and DePaul University commit David Gripman scored two goals, and freshman goalkeeper Alex Ainsworth started and played the majority of minutes to earn the shutout.
“We played well,” Fisher said. “The ability to move the ball quickly was good, and we were able to open up space with our passing. But there is definitely stuff we need to work on. It’s a talented group, so it’s about bringing all of the personalities together.
“It was good to get that first test out of the way.”
Sophomores Tommy Zippirich and Jack Latterman each scored goals Tuesday. As a freshman, Zippirich scored the game-winning goal in Loyola’s 2-1 win over Niles West in the Class 3A regional semifinal at Evanston.
A big story of the offseason was Ainsworth winning the job in goal, and he showed he belonged in the opener.
“He brings a good presence to our backline,” Fisher said. “But things can change, which is why we are lucky enough to have three strong goalkeepers.”
Loyola lost six seniors from last season’s 14-6 club, but most of the players from last year’s rotation have returned, including two-time captain Christian Jimenez, Gripman and Zippirich. Of the 44 goals the Ramblers scored, 29 were from players who are back. Zippirich finished with seven goals and three assists. Injuries limited Gripman to 12 games last year, yet he had five goals and four assists.
According to Fisher, some of the other key other contributors will be senior Daniel Montaquila, senior Collin Leider, senior Marco Toriano, junior Frank Baio, junior Andrew Hoepfner, junior Nick Roscoe, junior John Wilson and sophomore Michael Sullivan.
Leider was among the offensive leaders last season, totaling five goals and seven assists.
The Ramblers will be challenged early in the schedule at the Northside College Showcase, which starts Saturday and features eight teams. Loyola plays New Trier on Saturday, Glenbrook North on Tuesday and Waukegan on Thursday.
“Those are probably three of the top five teams in the state,” Fisher said. “We are throwing the guys in the deep end and will see how they respond.”