Illinois: Loyola, New Trier Set for Boys' Title Game

Two familiar boys' lacrosse titans go head-to-head once again as top seed Loyola Academy takes on No. 2 New Trier for the Illinois High School Lacrosse Association A-Class Championship on Saturday.

The teams get together in the pinnacle contest for the sixth-straight season, with New Trier winning the previous five. This weekend's game is set for 3:30 PM at Oak Park-River Forest High School just outside of Chicago.

No. 1 Loyola Academy is riding high after trouncing No. 4 Saint Viator, 12-1, in semifinal action on Thursday. The Ramblers took command from the very onset and allowed its only goal with just 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The victory for Loyola also avenged an earlier season defeat to Saint Viator, 5-4, in double-overtime, back on April 6.

During its current playoff run, Loyola beat No. 17 Glenbrook South, 12-4, in the second round before dispatching No. 8 Wheaton South, 13-4, in the quarterfinals.

After starting the season 3-4 overall, the Ramblers (17-4) have now won 14 games in a row, allowing just 3.2 goals per game during the streak. Meanwhile, Loyola has endured a tough schedule that's included tilts against Cherry Creek (CO), Mullen (CO), and Louisville St. Xavier (KY). The Ramblers also posted wins over fellow semifinalists New Trier, 6-5, on May 12, and Lyons Township, 8-6, on April 20.

As for Saturday's finale, look for the Ramblers to turn to All-American attackman Brendan Dolan to fuel the offense on Saturday. Defensively, expect fellow All-American selection Dylan Harris to be a force in keeping the New Trier offense at bay. Overall, Loyola's defensive group has been particularly strong this season and features an athletic and aggressive unit that also includes LSM Matt Gavula and defender Michael Schiappa. Midfielder Tom Sullivan also garnered All-State honors this season and will certainly command extra attention on the field.

Meanwhile, No. 2 New Trier heads into the championship after posting a solid 8-4 victory over No. 3 Lyons Township in semifinal action on Thursday. Like Loyola, the Trevians are hoping their grueling schedule pays dividends come Saturday. New Trier has faced off against Loyola-Blakefield (MD), Landon (DC), Brother Rice (MI) and Culver Academy (IN) throughout the '11 campaign, proving they can be considered one of the nation's most formidable programs.

During its current playoff run, the Trevians posted a 20-5 win over No. 15 Hinsdale Central in the second round before edging No. 7 Lake Forest, 6-2, in quarterfinal action on Tuesday.

Equipped with a loaded lineup, New Trier should match-up quite well with Loyola. Three players earned All-American status in '11, including attackman Chad Sawyer, midfielder Mick Parks, and defender Taylor McGinnis. All-Conference selections Pat Callahan (midfield) and Rory McGinnis (attack) also round out a deep roster that frequently wears down opponents by the second half.

Don't let New Trier's six overall losses fool you. This year's squad is just as talented as ever before. Keep in mind, the Trevians are 15-1 against Illinois competition this year, with their only defeat coming against Loyola Academy by a goal.

All the while, the Ramblers would like nothing more than to end New Trier's longtime reign as state champion. With a well-balanced unit that has played better as the season has progressed, Loyola will likely be favored here, especially after edging New Trier during the regular season.

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