By Mike Garofola
GLENVIEW -- The first of two sensational second half goals from David Gripman put Loyola in control Tuesday afternoon during its season opener against Lake View at the school's Munz Campus.
Gripman, who did not play in the first 40 minutes, paid near immediate dividends from his presence when he doubled the Ramblers advantage at 46 minutes for a 2-0 lead. He closing the scoring with a bang when he recorded his double in the 66th minute.
The Ramblers win was the second-straight 4-0 season opening result over the visiting Wildcats for manager Baer Fisher Fishers' men and third in a row (4-1 win over Lake View in 2016).
"For our first game of the year, we didn't look too bad out there today," admitted Fisher, who 2017 guided his club to a 14-6-1 overall record in a season that ended with a 2-0 loss to Evanston in its regional final.
"This is nearly a brand new team you're looking at (and) one that was missing a couple of starters today at that.
"But after a slow start, we started to find ourselves, all along receiving some terrific work from 'Zip' (Tommy Zipprich) and Oscar (Blazer) two sophomores who each made a real difference for us today."
Though they spent much of the opening period trying in vain to pry open their stubborn guests, the Ramblers went in at the break ahead 1-0 courtesy of Zipprichs' 33rd minute strike.
"We started out a little slow today," said Zipprich, who earned Chicagoland Soccer's Man of the Match honors for his efforts. "(We) were disorganized with our attack. It was Oscar, who really came through for us -- moving over from his usual spot as an outside-back and playing in the center for the injured John Wilson -- to give us great defensive play while we struggled early on."
While the Loyola parties interviewed mentioned just how brand new of a club they have, Lake View's Jeric Johnson was quick to say the same of his bunch, which lost 11 players from a year ago, leaving the cupboard bare for the first-year manager.
"We have new faces all over our roster, several of which are first time varsity players, but despite this, I thought we played really well in the first half (and) stayed positive, even when we went down a couple of goals," said Johnson, who has worked within the Lake View program the past few seasons.
Lake View played well in the opening period, particularly up until what proved to be the game-winner from Zipprich.
The Wildcats enjoyed 65 percent of the possession in the first quarter hour, much of it going through Henry Morales and Johan Jacome, as well as senior Ismail Mehmedovic, who helped direct the visitors attack as he sat in front of his backline, and in support of both Morales and Jacome.
"They (Lake View) were better than us for the first 20 minutes while we worked out the kinks in our game," said junior Andrew Hoepfner, one of three who wore the captains' armband for Fisher. "And it was that first goal that we scored that helped get us going for the rest of the game,"
Johnson praised his team for creating quality chances in the first half. The best the Wildcats produced came in a sequence that required Loyola keeper Alex Ainsworth to come to the rescue.
The Loyola freshman came off his line aggressively to take the ball off the shooting boots of Franz Brennan, who came through on the left side.
Moments later, Ainsworth used his right glove to turn away a one-timer by Mehmedovic that saved a sure goal. Then the keeper watched teammate Brady Reichert take a curling Mehmedovic corner off the line.
On the other end, the visitors were fortunate not to concede when Austin Agyemang, just brought on, was unable to get enough on his attempt at an open net after Lake View keeper Edin Peskovic lost his footing inside the box.
The appearance of Agyemang proved to be a key move by Fisher -- the junior provided the pace and fresh legs needed to help expose the Lake View defense.
Zipprich sent Agyemang through with a superb ball only to have an offsides flag negate a potential 1-v.-1 opportunity in the 27th minute. That was followed by a wicked blast from Agyemang that bounded off Mehmedovic and nearly in for an own goal.
"Late in the first half we began to move the ball so much better, which was something we did well today," said Fisher. "In the second half we created more and were more dangerous in the final third."
Zipprich roared up the right side after receiving a lovely helper from Hoepfner. He found the far left inside netting seven minutes from the break; it was just the tonic to help inspire the Ramblers breakout after the break.
"We needed to get that first goal, and I knew if I got the right ball I could beat their defense. And Andrew gave me a great ball to do just that," said Zipprich.
Loyola proved braver at the outset of the new half, and it was the addition of Gripman up-top that made the difference.
Showing far too much speed -- both on and off the ball -- the senior, along with Zipprich, nearly combined shortly after the break.
That's when, at the end of a marvelous buildup - Zipprich and Gripman used quick, sharp passes to split open the Wildcats inside their box, only to have Zipprich steer his close-range shot just wide.
The dynamic duo were at it again seconds later, only this time, Gripman wouldn't miss, finishing with a cool touch on the turn from inside 18 yards.
Michael Sullivan and Gripman worked a short corner to perfection - with Gripman turning his mark inside-out before unloading an near-unstoppable attempt that Lake View's Peskovic pushed up and over the bar.
Another well run short corner from the Ramblers saw Brendan Knapp elevate high over the Lake View defense and head off the bar, but the rebound spilled freely to an opportunistic Jack Latterman near the spot.
The sophomore hit the underside of the woodwork and then watched his 52nd-minute strike nestle into the back of the net.
The Ramblers attack started to take a toll.
"We were starting to show a little fatigue with that third goal," said the Lake View coach. "But as I said, the guys stayed positive and played hard right until the end against a Loyola team that played well and has had more training sessions than us in advance of this game."
With a moment of sheer brilliance, Gripman ended the scoring.
Taking a ball out of the back, the DePaul recruit dribbled past a pair of Wildcats, then outraced the duo with the ball into the box. From there he zigged and zagged to pull Peskovic far off his line before putting the finishing touch on the scoreline with a sublime touch.
"That is the type of work we expect from David up-top to help us create and score," said Fisher. "And we look forward to him providing more of that from here on out.
"We obviously still have a long way to go to where we can be better with and without the ball and to play the type of soccer I feel we're capable of. But it will take some time; we us having to pull so many new players together."
Loyola will continue on that road when it hosts Christo Rey at 6 p.m. Thursday. Then the Ramblers begin pool play at the high profile Northside College Showcase against longtime rival, and tourney host, New Trier on Saturday afternoon in Northfield.
"It will be our first real early test of the season, so all of us will be looking forward to playing New Trier," said Hoepfner.
This Showcase will continue all throughout next week, with the Ramblers meeting Glenbrook North, then Waukegan, to see what club will move on from Group A to the final Sept. 1.
Lake View is on the road at Niles West and Niles North next week, before opening its Chicago Public League season against Whitney Young on August 31 at McKinley Park in Chicago.
Lake View (3-5-2)
GK- Edin Peskovic
D- Emmanuel Garcia
D- Jose Pineda
D- Victor Vasquez
M- Brennan Franz
M- Henry Morales
M- Ismail Mehmedovic
M- Efrain Flores
M- Alberto Rodriguez
F- Godfred Appau
F- Johan Jacome
GK- Alex Ainsworth
D- Christian Jimenez
D- Oscar Blazer
D- Brendan Knapp
D- Brady Reichert
M- Michael Sullivan
M- Andrew Hoepfner
M- Nick Roscoe
M- Collin Leider
F- Henry Goetz
F- Tommy Zipprich
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Tommy Zipprich, so., F/M, Loyola
Officials: John Guild (referee); Rafal Zielinski (assistant); Alexander Spivak (assistant)
Loyola: Zipprich (Hoepfner) 33'
Loyola: Gripman (Zipprich) 46'
Loyola: Latterman (Knapp) 52'
Loyola: Gripman (U/A) 66'