As Loyola Gold prepared to host Glenbrook North Sunday afternoon, they knew what they were getting into and what was at stake. Not only did Michael Gonzalez, Danny O'Grady and Ryan Hill come through, but game-changing goals were scored by Ben Huber and Will Odle, sweeping The Spartans 5-2 in the SHL Semifinals.
"It was awesome," said head coach DJ LaVarre, "I told the guys before, we need effort from both ends of the rope. Whether you're a top guy or a bottom guy, we're all the same and we all need to pull together and we had some other guys step up today because we came together, we're all a team. It was a great team win."
Both teams were hungry and came out strong. Glenbrook North brought the intensity and held a 1-0 lead until Will Huber tied it up at the 11:57 mark in the second.
"It feels really good to step up," said Huber. "It could have been anybody but I was at the right spot at the right time and happened to get one in."
Shortly after, Ben Dodle came through with 9:20 left in the second to break the tie for the 2-1 lead.
"It was a great shot," said Dodle. "It was a team effort for sure. Everyone had a role in this game and everyone trusted each other, it was a big win."
Two minutes later, the tables started to turn. Glenbrook North does what they do best and snuck up from behind in the third and tied the game at 2. Loyola Gold got a little nervous but they weren't too shaken up once Gonzalez stepped up and knocked in the game-winner.
"Going into this we knew we had to make a statement, make a little noise," said Gonzalez. "It was a big deal for us to sweep [Glenbrook North]. We're not done seeing them yet but this was really important. "
LaVarre said that Glenbrook North scoring first is what kind off sparked Loyola's offense.
"I thought we had a better start, even though they scored first," said LaVarre. "After that we just 'boom,' picked up again. We talked about supporting each other and I told them, at the end of this game if we lost, the person who's going to feel the worst about anything is the goalie. We all stepped up for the goalie today because we're a family and we believe in each other."
Hill scored Gold's fourth goal and O'Grady scored on an open net for the fifth and final.
Loyola Gold will play New Trier Green who swept Rockford after a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon. Date and time of Game 1 is still TBD.