An ominous first quarter for the Loyola men's lacrosse team confirmed coach Charley Toomey's fear.
But three goals in the final three minutes of the second quarter broke a 4-4 tie and assuaged his worries as the No. 8 Greyhounds raced to a thorough 13-5 victory over UMBC on Saturday night.
The No. 8 Greyhounds improved to 8-0 for the first time since 1999 in front of an announced crowd of 811 at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville. Fans braved rain and wind to watch the Greyhounds extend their streak of at least 10 goals to eight consecutive games.
Entering yesterday's game, Toomey said he was concerned about his team's energy level after Wednesday night's 11-6 win against Georgetown.
"I was more worried after practice on Thursday, and I was more worried after watching our guys on Friday," he said. "We were trying to be smart with them and not do too much running and really walking through a lot of the sets that we thought UMBC was going to do and walking through our rides and clears just hoping that we would have our legs."
Senior attackman Mike Sawyer led all scorers with a game-high six points on five goals and one assist, and sophomore attackman Justin Ward chipped in with three points on one goal and two assists.
But it wasn't as easy as it appeared in the first quarter as the Retrievers raced to a 3-1 advantage.
After both sides exchanged goals, UMBC took the lead when junior attackman Scott Jones converted a pass from junior midfielder Scott Hopmann with a low-to-low shot from the left wing with 4 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Retrievers created a two-goal cushion on a perfectly-executed play with 0.3 seconds remaining. Sophomore midfielder Will Fejes carried the ball down the right side of the box and centered the ball to Jones running down the slot for the score.
The Greyhounds scored three straight goals to open the second quarter. Ward converted a feed from Sawyer with 8:08 left, Sawyer nailed a shot from the left wing two minutes later, and Sawyer took a pass from senior faceoff specialist J.P. Dalton to beat junior goalkeeper Adam Cohen (a career-high 15 saves) low 10 seconds after his first goal.
UMBC senior attackman Rob Grimm one-timed a pass from junior attackman Joe Lustgarten with 2:26 remaining to temporarily stop the bleeding. But that's when Loyola embarked on seven unanswered goals spanning the second and third quarters to build an 11-4 advantage.
During that stretch, Sawyer scored three times —registering his seventh hat trick of the season — and added an assist, senior attackman Eric Lusby scored twice, and Ward posted two assists.
"We pushed transition," Sawyer said. "We play fast between the lines, and our opportunities started to fall, and we went on our run."
Grimm's third goal of the night with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter ended a scoreless drought of 21:01 for the Retrievers, but junior midfielder Davis Butts answered 2:08 later and Dalton converted a pass from junior midfielder Phil Dobson with 3:46 remaining to cement the outcome for the Greyhounds.
Grimm paced UMBC with three goals and Jones finished with two scores, but it wasn't quite the outing that coach Don Zimmerman had been looking for with UMBC coming off a 14-day layoff.
"I think our guys need to go after it with greater conviction," he said. "As we discussed after the game, it all starts in practice. We've got to go after each other harder. We're a very close-knit team, and I'm proud of the guys for that. But when you come down here to practice, you've got to realize that when you're wearing white and your buddy's wearing black, you're not on the same team. You've got to go after each other and by doing that, you'll make yourself better, and you'll make your teammate better."