WILMETTE —Mark Dezell was on the field by himself more than an hour before Thursday’s boys lacrosse state semifinal game.
Wearing headphones and listening to music, the Loyola senior goalie stretched, practiced his stick movements and got himself mentally ready for the biggest game of his career.
“Goalies can be a little different,” Loyola coach Rob Snyder joked.
Dezell said the pregame routine is something new, one he instituted May 20 before the Ramblers’ first playoff game.
“It’s my little way to warmup,” Dezell said. “I mostly think about what I want to do out there during the game. This was my last home game, so I wanted to take it all in. I’ve been so lucky to play here.”
The two-time defending state champion Ramblers were fortunate to have Dezell on their side. A ball boy for the varsity team as a freshman, Dezell’s play in net was a big reason why top-seeded Loyola earn a 10-8 win over fourth-seeded Lake Forest and advance to the state final for the ninth season in a row.
The Ramblers play for the state championship against New Trier at4:30 p.m. Saturdayat Hinsdale Central.
“He did a great job,” Snyder said of the first-year starter. “We gave up some goals, yes, but some of those were from not clearing the ball. At some point, they are going to score, if given enough opportunities.”
After Loyola (17-4) scored four unanswered goals to build a 6-2 lead in the second quarter, Dezell stopped a shot with 30 seconds remaining in the half to prevent Lake Forest (20-4) from gaining any momentum going into the break.
Dezell refused to take credit for his success.
“Our coaches did a great job with the scouting report,” he said. “They prepared us very well. My defense also allows me to make those saves.”
Ahead 8-2 less than two minutes into the third quarter, Loyola looked like it was in total control of the game. But the Scouts mounted a comeback by scoring the last three goals of the quarter and then the first of the fourth to get within two, 8-6.
“We knew they would make a run at some point in the game,” Snyder said. “They were able to possess the ball a lot in the third quarter, and they got some good looks.”
Loyola seniors Johnny Burns and Jack Penn then scored consecutive goals to give the Ramblers a four-goal lead. Lake Forest responded with two more goals, the last by junior Hunter Moore with2:03to go.
But the Ramblers forced a turnover with 56 seconds left and were able to hold the ball and run out the clock.
Burns and Penn each scored twice. Penn also had two assists. Senior David Glynn, junior Conor Walters and Moore all scored two goals apiece for the Scouts, who were seeking their first trip to the championship game since 2012.
“I can’t believe this,” Dezell said. “I didn’t play at all last year, except for a couple of minutes here and there. Now, I am the starting goalie and will be playing for a state championship.”
New Trier 10, Benet 6
In Northfield, the second-seeded Trevians (17-7) returned to the state final for a second year in a row by beating the third-seeded Redwings (20-3).
“We came out with great energy, and we scored right off the bat,” said New Trier coach Tom Herrala, whose club led 3-0 after the first quarter and 6-3 at the half. “They are an athletic team with good lacrosse players, but I don’t think they’d seen a defense like ours.”
David Hammes, Ben Connelly and Kevin Mulhern all scored two goals for New Trier.
Benet’s Will Mann scored a game-best three goals. Jack Moran had two assists and one goal for the Redwings.
New Trier last won a state championship in 2011.
“This is what everybody wants to see,” Herrala said of the matchup against Loyola. “We plan to get after itSaturday.”