Lafayette simply couldn't stop the Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team's offense Saturday. Three Greyhounds had hat tricks and another finished with two goals and three assists — and that was just in the first half.
The goals came in bunches for the Greyhounds. Senior attackman Justin Ward (Old Mill) led the way with eight points as No. 2 Loyola cruised to its eighth straight win, a 21-4 rout of Patriot League opponent Lafayette at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Loyola (8-1, 4-0) battled through two tough defensive matchups in its past two games, one-goal wins over Army (7-6) and Georgetown (10-9) after scoring 89 goals in its first six games. But Lafayette (1-6, 1-4) couldn't contain the Greyhounds, who pushed the pace early and raced to a 13-2 halftime lead.
In addition to Ward (four goals, four assists), senior attackman Brian Schultz and junior attackman Nikko Pontrello also finished with four goals. Freshman midfielder Brian Sherlock added three goals and two assists. Sherlock, Schultz and Pontrello each had hat tricks by halftime as Loyola set a pace that Lafayette couldn't match.
"Our energy was there from the get-go today," Ward said. "We just started really fast, and we played a very fast pace. Our minds are playing fast, but we also made great decisions and got some really easy looks."
The offensive outburst wasn't a surprise. Loyola's scoring offense entered the game ranked fourth in the nation, and the Leopards quickly discovered why.
The Greyhounds found a number of good scoring chances right from the start. They outshot Lafayette 56-16 and scored six goals in the first quarter, plus seven apiece in the second and third quarters before easing up in the fourth.
Loyola worked at speeding up the tempo Saturday. The Greyhounds quickly moved the ball upfield or swung it around on offense, constantly finding open or high-percentage shots. They scored three goals in just under two minutes in the first quarter, and did the same thing early in the second.
In the third quarter, Loyola scored four times in a span of 1:54. The Leopards wound up using three different goalkeepers en route to their fifth consecutive loss.
"We clearly are a better program when we're pushing the pace," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "Today, we stepped in and we finished some shots."
Loyola scored the game's first three goals, and Lafayette tried to keep it close, cutting the lead to 5-2 midway through the first quarter. The Greyhounds then reeled off 12 consecutive goals before Lafayette scored its third with 4:55 left in the third quarter.
Improved play at the faceoff X also helped Loyola. Freshman Graham Savio and junior Blake Burkhart helped them win 18 of 29 draws and keep possession for long stretches as Loyola kept nearly constant pressure on the Lafayette defense throughout the first three quarters.
"They force you to make plays," Lafayette coach Jim Rogalski said. "They're good at making plays when you make mistakes. I think they're one of the better teams out there, from the offensive standpoint."