Loyola was equally aggressive on defense, keeping St. Francis (8-3-3 overall, 3-1-1 in Mission League) at bay most of the afternoon; the Golden Knights managed just three shots on goal, and nine overall. The Cubs (10-3-5, 3-0-2) also managed just nine shots, though six of them were on goal.
“We had some looks at it,” Appels told the Valley Sun. “I can’t say we didn’t get shots. We had a couple looks where I thought we had their keeper out of position; we just didn’t get the ball out.”
The only time St. Francis did whiz the ball past Cubs’ goalkeeper John Bunkall was when sophomore forward Erik Verso scored on a free kick to the back post set up by senior midfielder Brett McCreary.
That score tied the game at 1-1, just moments after Loyola struck first, when junior midfielder Joe Kearney found the back of the net in the game’s first few minutes.
“The first goal (by Loyola), we were soft,” Appels humbly said.
However, Cubs’ junior midfielder Grant Hoxworth scored the go-ahead goal in the sixteenth minute, when his goal from the left side gave Loyola a 2-1 lead.
Both teams only managed one more shot on goal for the final 24 minutes in the half, though the game was primarily played on Loyola’s offensive half of the field.
St. Francis appeared to come out of its funk after the halftime break, showing signs of aggression with four shots in the first 11 minutes—though none were on goal.
Yet momentum shifted in Loyola’s favor at the 17:43 mark, when senior forward Will Pleskow bended it toward the left post on a broken play from 15 yards out to finish the scoring.
The Knights did play with a sense of urgency in the game’s final five minutes, attempting three shots, including one on goal at the 4:45 mark of the second half. However, the burst of energy was not enough, as St. Francis dropped its first Mission League loss of the season.
“I think we can play better,” Appels said candidly. “I don’t think there is anything in particular that is a glaring weakness. We just need to do the things we can do.”
Loyola also won the battle of the corner kicks, 4-1. Bunkall stopped two of the three shots he faced, while Stahl saved three of Loyola’s six shots.