The national lacrosse championship title returned to the state Monday, but it wasn't powerhouse Johns Hopkins or the much larger University of Maryland that took top honors.
Baltimore's relatively small Loyola University Maryland won its first national Division I title ever, crushing the Terps, 9-3, in an all-Maryland final played before 30,816 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
"Loyola is less than 4,000 undergraduate students. To beat the biggest of programs is just a pretty amazing time for the school," said Brian Kroneberger, a financial adviser and radio personality. He was a midfielder on the Loyola team in 1990 — the last time the Jesuit school in North Baltimore played in the national title game.
Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey was the goalkeeper on the 1990 Loyola squad that lost to Syracuse.
"What they did was a first in school history. It's an exciting time," said Dave Cottle, president and coach of the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse, who coached at Loyola from 1983 to 2001 and at College Park from 2002 to 2010.
"This is just a tremendous accomplishment for Loyola," Cottle said.
The last Maryland team to win the championship was Hopkins in 2007.
If Monday's game was thrilling for Loyola alumni and fans, it was excruciating for University of Maryland loyalists. The Terrapins lost the national championship for the second year in a row.
Fans of the two schools watched the game within a bar stool of each other at Mother's Federal Hill Grille. The Loyola faithful cheered the heroics of local product Eric Lusby of Severna Park, who scored four goals and set a playoff record of 17 for the tournament's top seed.
Loyola grad Regina Schmidt, watching with a table of friends, added a new doodle on the paper tablecloth with each goal, including "National Champions" as the clock ticked off the final seconds and Toomey was doused with a bucket of ice water.
Everyone in the group admitted to being 3 years old the last time Loyola made it to the championship game.
Maryland fans faced another championship defeat. The Terps lost the final game last year in Baltimore to the University of Virginia.
Chris Jorgenson, 26, "a Terp till I die," was suffering as the Greyhounds piled up the goals. He and his buddies had driven back from Ocean City on Monday morning to watch the game in a hometown bar. But he believed there would be a Maryland win until the last.
When it didn't happen, the Maryland law school student was subdued. "I think I will be OK," he said.
"I am depressed," said Tunde Oyediran, a 2007 Maryland graduate who had invited friends to help him celebrate his birthday — and, he had hoped, a Maryland victory. "This is the worst birthday present ever."
At Ryan's Daughter Irish Pub & Restaurant, not far from the Loyola campus, a handful of recent grads remained in Baltimore long enough to watch the Greyhounds.
"Woof," said 2012 graduate Brittney Gibbons, who wore a green Loyola shirt and threw her hands in the air as her team took an 8-3 lead.
"It definitely made the year," said Natalie Breon, a political science major from Minnesota, who got a job in Washington. "I feel like I will still watch them," she said of the team. "This is the most school spirit I've seen all year," she added.
At a nearby table, neutral spectator Brian Yeager said he was just happy to see two Maryland teams in the championship game.
"It's great for the state of Maryland," he said.
Loyola's Charley Toomey is not the first men's lacrosse head coach to guide a team to the national championship in his first trip to the NCAA Final Four. Incorrect information was provided by the NCAA.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun