BOYS SOCCER: The Ramblers had their best day of the season Sunday by beating St. Ignatius 2-1 at home to capture the Catholic Blue championship. It was a milestone moment and one that should be celebrated, according to Loyola head coach Baer Fisher.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It means a great deal to us and a great step for our program.”
But with the Class 3A state tournament starting this week, Fisher told the team Monday to stay in the present. The No. 5 seed at the Evanston Sectional, the Ramblers (14-1-4) open the playoffs Tuesday against No. 12 Prospect in the regional semifinals at Loyola. The regional final is Friday.
“It was such an emotional day [Sunday], and we put so much into the game that we have to find a way to come out with the same focus and energy for Prospect,” Fisher said. “It’s honestly a trap game for us. They are dangerous, and they play a style that is different from ours. We will see how they respond. I know our guys want to keep it going.”
Senior David Gripman scored both goals Sunday, and seniors Daniel Montaquila and Brady Reichert both had assists. Senior Marco Troiano earned the win in goal.
Making the victory more remarkable was that Gripman, the team’s leading goal-scorer, got a red card after his second goal, forcing the Ramblers to play most of the second half with 10 players. By IHSA rule, he won’t be able to play Tuesday.
“For the last 30 minutes, we defended for our lives,” Fisher said. “It was exciting. You never want to lose a player like David, but we have enough talent that we can win without him. Maybe that’s not the case a few years ago.”
The conference championship was the first in Fisher’s four seasons at Loyola (14-1-4, 5-0-1), and the win ran the Ramblers’ unbeaten streak to 14 games. Their last loss was a 3-2 defeat to Waukegan on Aug. 30.
GIRLS SWIMMING AND DIVING: Although the new aquatics facility won’t be ready until later next year, the Ramblers got creative on senior night Friday by taking a photo in what will be the program’s new pool.
Seniors Westen Doran, Emily Eshoo, Virginia Hiteshew, Catherine Holecek, Grace Kern, Aidan Koconis-O’Malley, Emily Rourke, Lauren Vallace and Hope Walsh all were recognized for their contributions over the years.
Loyola head coach Mike Hengelmann said he’s proud of the way the team has handled itself this season without a home pool.
“All things considered, the girls have been great,” he said. “They’ve taken it in stride and are doing the best they can. We are a traveling band.”
The Ramblers complete the regular season Tuesday against three-time defending state champion Rosary. They compete at the MCAC meet Oct. 26-27. Diving is Oct. 27 at Fenwick, and swimming is Oct. 28 at University of Illinois-Chicago.
“We are going to start scaling back at practices, and the girls will start seeing all of the hard work pay off,” Hengelmann said. “Swimming is a patient sport, and this is fun part of the season.”
At Saturday’s Trevian Relays, sophomore Kathleen Wannemacher was one of the Ramblers who stood out, according to Hengelmann. A sprint freestyler, she swam personal-best times in all four of her events.
“It was a breakout meet for her,” Hengelmann said. “She really flew. We are in rebuilding mode right now, so it’s good to see some of the younger girls step up. They are starting to grab the reigns.”
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: The Ramblers have the week off before playing at the Class 4A state tournament. They are the No. 1 seed at their own sectional and open the playoffs Oct. 23 in the regional semifinals at Schaumburg against either No. 16 Schaumburg or No. 17 Conant. The regional final is Oct. 25.
The other top seeds at the sectional are No. 2 New Trier, No. 3 Fremd and No. 4 Hersey. The Ramblers are 1-1 against the Trevians and 1-0 against the Huskies.
Loyola (26-8) concluded the regular season last weekend by going 3-2 at Glenbard East’s invitational. On Thursday, the Ramblers beat Mother McAuley 28-30, 25-22, 25-23 to finish 4-2 in the GCAC Red.
FIELD HOCKEY: On senior night Oct. 9, the Ramblers defeated Deerfield 7-1 behind three goals from junior Kara Finneke and two from senior Claire Tingle. Senior Grace Staley and junior Betsy Leinenweber each scored one goal apiece.
Loyola starts the state tournament Wednesday against Latin at Glenbard West. The Ramblers are the sixth seed.