The Loyola womens lacrosse team returned its entire starting attack from last year's NCAA quarterfinal team. The defense lost three key players, which is why the Greyhounds expected the offense the lead the way in Saturday's season opener against Virginia.
However, the game played out a little differently.
Freshman goalie Molly Wolf made 11 saves to anchor a solid defensive effort, but Loyola's offense never found its groove, as co-No. 11 Virginia escaped with a 10-9 victory at the Ridley Athletic Complex.
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The No. 7 Greyhounds led most of the first half before Virginia (1-0) went in front, 8-5, with a five-goal run. Loyola rallied to tie it at nine on goals 10 seconds apart from Marlee Paton and Sydney Thomas, the latter coming with 7:16 remaining.
But Virginia's Dana Boyle (two goals) scored the game-winner with 5:29 left.
"We fought pretty hard; we just didn't have the ball today," Loyola coach Jen Adams said. "We didn't possess enough. We didn't get enough draw controls. Any time [we] keep a team to 10 ... I would assume my offense and midfield can score more than 10 goals."
Virginia kept possession for long stretches, helped by its 14-7 edge in draw controls. The Cavaliers out-shot Loyola, 32-21, as the Greyhounds simply couldn't do enough on offense.
"We've got powerhouses down there on offense," Adams said. "We've got people down there scoring left and right and all kinds of unimaginable ways at practice, and we didn't see that same offense out there today at all. Mark my word, that won't happen again."
Taryn VanThof led Loyola with three goals after missing 2012 with a torn ACL. Six other players each scored a goal, but the Greyhounds finished with just one assist.
On the other end, Adams was delighted with the effort of her defense and Wolf, who got tested early and often, making a save at the 57-second mark that seemed to get her into the game.
She made six stops in the first half and five more in the second to keep the Greyhounds close.
"I was pretty nervous, but I was ready to take on whatever came my way," Wolf said. "I knew the defense had my back."
Wolf often came out of the goal and challenged Virginia, and she made some tough point-blank saves.
"She's a really active goalie," said Virginia's Courtney Swan (one goal, one assist). "She did make a lot of great saves."
Virginia appeared in command after taking the 8-5 lead. Loyola kept fighting, and the goals from Patton and Thomas that tied the game appeared to give the Greyhounds momentum.
But Loyola didn't muster another shot, and the Cavaliers ran out the clock after Boyle's go-ahead extra-man goal. Casey Bocklet led Virginia with three goals and one assist.
"I feel like we made some big plays when we needed to," Virginia coach Julie Myers said. "We created just enough opportunities to walk out of here with a win."