Although Grace Gavin's goal-scoring streak ended at 59 consecutive games, Loyola's fifth-ranked women marched on in the NCAA women's Division I lacrosse tournament Saturday with a 14-7 victory over Massachusetts at the Ridley Athletic Complex.
Under intense attention from the Massachusetts defense, Gavin (St. Paul's) was content to feed her teammates (three assists), while fellow senior Meg Decker (Mount de Sales) paced the offense with five goals as Loyola never trailed in a game played under dank and drizzly skies.
The Greyhounds (17-2) advanced to meet the survivor of the North Carolina-Virginia game, which was being delayed by bad weather at Chapel Hill, N.C. If the Tar Heels win, Loyola will travel; if Virginia wins, the 'Hounds will host next weekend.
Despite never managing to lead, the Minutewomen made it uncomfortable for Loyola for 40 minutes until they turned the ball over in their attack zone and the Greyhounds turned it into a turning-point score. The ball went to Decker on a break and she outran the retreating defense to make it 7-4 with 10:51 elapsed in the second period.
"Our defense is really good at finding the open player," said Decker, who accounted for 22 goals in the team's first 18 starts. "There was no defense in the center of the field and I just took it in and shot."
Said Loyola coach Jen Adams: "The coach was looking for a little extra spark then. And [Decker] has some extra turbo speed. That really kind of got us going."
No doubt. Loyola then strung together a four-goal spurt, including two by Mary Heneberry to forge into a six-point lead and virtually put the victory away. Heneberry supplied three goals altogether, all in the second half.
Massachusetts, the Atlantic 10 champion, thus suffered its first defeat since March 26 and had a 10-game winning streak snapped. The Minutewomen completed the season with a 17-3 record under first-year coach Angela McMahon.
"We had a hard time putting shots away," McMahon said. "If we put a couple more away, we're right in the game. But [the Greyhounds] are very athletic and very fast. They kept us under a lot of pressure and we didn't handle it."
In their first tournament appearance in seven years, the Greyhounds, the No. 6 seed overall, ran their record to 3-0 all-time against Massachusetts in a somewhat sloppy game (a combined 38 turnovers) played before an announced 610.
Massachusetts 3 4--7
Loyola 6 8-14
Goals: M--Smith 2, Ferris, Guarino, O'Donnell, Terracciano, Lyons; L--Decker 5, Heneberry 3, Rehfuss 2, Paton, Filippelli, Vanthoff, Hager.
Assists: M--DeFliese, Ferris, Guarino, Pelletier; L--Gavin 3, Paton 3, Filippeli, Rehfuss.
Saves: M--Florence 9; L--Stoothoff 7.
Attendance: 610Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun