Loyola claims second at state
Loyola players celebrate after beating New Trier in their IHSFHA semifinals at Lake Forest High School on Friday. Loyola won the game 1-0. Visit lakeforest.suntimes.com/sports to view photo galleries from the semifinals and finals. | John Konstantaras~For
Updated: December 2, 2012 1:58PM
LAKE FOREST — When the Loyola Ramblers look back on their 2012 field hockey season, one game in particular will stand out.
It won’t be the state championship game, which they lost 3-0 to Lake Forest on Saturday. Instead, the game the Ramblers will remember is their 1-0 victory over three-time defending state champion New Trier on Friday.
The game was the culmination of a season which started with less-than-lofty ambitions. A new coach — Annie Nimz — was in charge and the team was dominated by Lake Forest 4-0 on August 23.
“We went to a tournament (Huskie Invite at Oak Park-River Forest in late September) and we didn’t win a game and New Trier ended up winning that tournament,” sophomore attacker Izzy Armstrong said.
As the season progressed, the Ramblers began to adapt to Nimz’s system — score early and play sound, contain defense — finishing in first place in the IHSFHA private school’s division, not dropping a game (7-0). Then in Friday’s state semifinal game, they got what they wanted: a rematch with New Trier.
In the game’s 10th minute, they got the lead. Playing on a hybrid turf field at Lake Forest, junior attacker Geriet Bowen received a ball that was sent down from the middle of the field. Moving to her right, she fired a shot from 10 yards out that rolled into the Trevians goal for a 1-0 Loyola lead.
“That’s what our team is when we score, that’s what it does for us,” Nimz said. “We dominated the first 15 minutes of the game.”
And when New Trier put on a furious rally at the end of the game — the Trevians had 13 penalty corners in the last 5 minutes — senior defenders Sarah Manahan and Colleen Mahoney, along with senior goalie Stef Alexander, clamped down, not yielding the tying goal.
When the clock ran out, they had done the believed-to-be impossible: beat New Trier and prevent the fourth consecutive state final matchup between the Trevians and tournament host Lake Forest.
By they time they played the powerful Scouts less than 24 hours later, the Ramblers had run out of gas, unable to match the level of intensity they displayed against New Trier. While the loss was disappointing, by making its first-ever championship-game appearance, Loyola proved it can play at an elite level.
“At the beginning of the season, we were coming together. The last few weeks we’ve been playing great as a team, and what we did (in the state tournament) happened over time,” senior captain Jamie Soner said.
One of the hopeful long-term impacts of the Ramblers run to the title game is so many younger players were involved. Along with Armstrong and Bowen, sophomore defenders Riley Miller and Margaret Crawford will return, as will junior midfielder Jenny Baudhuin.
They, along with the Ramblers seniors, always will have the shared experience of Loyola’s historic 2012 season.
“That (New Trier) game was amazing. It was everything we’d worked for all season,” Nimz said. “Every girl on my team played the best game of their life.”