The Cubs played with heart and physicality in their CIF debut Wednesday night.
To start the match, Santa Margarita leads high-pressure attacks in the Cubs’ backfield. A confident defense held by outside backs Nick Ramsbottom ’20 and Kenechi Ekeomodi ’21 move the ball in favor of the Cubs. Junior Spencer Roberts shares an early opportunity with veterans Grayson Doody and Liam Hook, but the ball lands in the keeper’s hands. About 7 minutes later, Loyola finds their first goal. Doing what he does best, Doody dribbles into the box from the corner sneaking past multiple defenders and dishes it to Maloney. Standing on the inner edge of the box, Maloney makes a soft touch, steps forward, and fires it in to get an early lead, 1-0. Making runs up and down the pitch, midfielders Eric Arreola and William Valentine gained key playmaking possessions to keep the Cubs in control till the end of the first.
Despite facing an aggressive and physical Santa Margarita team, the Cubs played with class and kept composure entering the second half. Liam Hook and Michael Maloney lead multiple offensive attacks along the left side of the pitch, but they’re just short of goals. With fifteen minutes and three Santa Margarita yellows later, William Valentine makes a solid tackle and finds Hook on his left. Hook keeps it simple and takes a narrow lane to the Santa Margarita box. He draws back and bangs in to make it 2-0. Senior Ben Bolte and Nate Smith Hastie ’21 sub in to keep the offensive pressure coming. In the final two minutes, the Cubs get another. Maloney makes a run upfield but is fouled ten feet outside the Margarita box. Maloney takes a low hanging shot, the goalie dives for the save, but it falls beautifully in the bottom right corner. 3-0 Cubs.
With first-round jitters out of the way and their first CIF win under their belts, the Cubs will stay focused on one game at a time. On Friday Loyola takes the road to Newbury Park HS for round two of the CIF D1 playoffs.