BOYS LACROSSE: The defending state champion Ramblers fell behind three goals in Saturday’s season opener before rallying to beat St. Rita 9-6 on the road. 

Loyola was missing several major contributors, including seniors Timothy Hackett, Cooper Prawdzik, Will Starshak and Najee Taylor. Hackett and Taylor were all-state selections last year. 

“It was an ugly start, but we stepped it up and turned it around,” senior Connor Koch said. “It’s always good to get a win.”

Koch was one of four Ramblers to score two goals. Senior Mike Feuer, senior Ned Seaman and junior Kaden Keller also all scored twice. Seaman finished with one assist.

The Ramblers travel to Maryland next week to play three games against national powerhouse programs. They take on Bullis School, the No. 6-ranked by Nike/US Lacrosse, on Thursday. On Friday, they play Georgetown Prep, and square off against No. 1-ranked Calvert Hall on Sunday. 

Loyola went 3-0 on the trip last season, beating Georgetown Prep, Our Lady of Good Counsel and Calverton School. 

“The teams out there are going to be ready to play and want to beat us after last year,” Koch said. “Obviously, we want to win, too, but the point of these games is for the experience and to make us better for the rest of the season.”

While Loyola lost its two top goal-scorers from last season’s 22-3 club, the Ramblers returned the next seven. Senior Nolan Chow was third on the team with 37, while Hackett (30), Taylor (29), junior Branden Tait (29), Feuer (26), Koch (24) and Keller (15) all are back. 

All five of the team’s leaders in assists are back: Taylor (25), Hackett (22), Keller (21), Koch (20) and Chow (19). 

Senior goalie Dom Urukalo, an all-state selection last season, returned in net. 

Koch said the Ramblers will have to be ready to match every opponent’s energy, given they captured the state championship last season.

“We were very motivated last year after not winning the state title,” he said. “Now, we have to make sure we are prepared for everybody because teams are going to throw everything they have at us.”

BOYS WATER POLO: In Mike Cashman’s first game as Loyola’s head coach March 8, the Ramblers earned an 8-7 win over New Trier on senior Kenny Sanjaj’s at Palatine’s tournament. 

Things have continued trending in the right direction, according to Cashman. Loyola ended the week Wednesday with a 12-3 victory over Brother Rice and stands 4-2. Junior Kevin Considine and sophomore David Kolssak each scored four goals apiece. 

Cashman wasn’t even discouraged by the team’s 12-9 loss to Fenwick in the MCAC opener Monday. 

“I think we learned a lot about ourselves that game,” he said. “We are in a much better spot than I thought we’d be in right now. I couldn’t ask for better effort. It’s going really well.”

Sanjaj and Considine are the only two swimmers back with starting experience. Junior Jake Carr returns as a three-year starter in goal.  

Along with Kolssak, senior Brian Solmos, junior Andrew Vagra and junior Noah Zahn all are expected to contribute, Cashman said.