Loyola Maryland’s Matt Sawyer knows the questions are coming, and he good-naturedly answers every query about playing at the same school where older brother Mike was an integral part of the 2012 national championship squad.
But when asked if he is eager to carve out his own identity, Sawyer offers a truthful response like those of us who perform or have performed in the shadows of siblings and relatives.
“I would like that,” he said Wednesday. “… I love Mike. Obviously, I’d like to be known as myself, not just as his little brother. But it’s not the worst compliment in the world, when they say, ‘Oh, he’s Mike’s little brother.’ Mike is one of the best out there.”
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When Mike Sawyer graduated last spring, he left the Greyhounds as their second-most prolific scorer of all time (128 goals) and he ranked eighth in career points (154). Matt Sawyer, a senior, won’t leave school with similar numbers, but he put forth a pretty good impression of his brother in Sunday’s 14-7 victory over No. 6 Duke.
Whipping shots from a variety of angles and with plenty of pace, Sawyer scored a career-high six goals on seven shots and was instrumental in a five-goal run in the second quarter during which he scored three times.
“I didn’t have any idea that I’d play that well, especially since six goals in one game is more than I’ve ever had in a season,” he said with a laugh. “It’s nice to have that game. I think it was nice to have the offense and defense play well together.”
Sawyer, who is tied for fourth on No. 3 Loyola (5-1) in goals (10) and ranks fourth in points (13), has finally found a home on the starting midfield. Recruited as an attackman from North Carolina, Sawyer began his collegiate career as a short-stick defensive midfielder, became a reserve attackman, and then ran as a member of the second midfield last year.
Coach Charley Toomey said Sawyer’s versatility made him an invaluable part of the team.
“He’s been a guy that we’ve asked to be a jack of all trades at different times and right now, he’s able to kind of settle into a role,” Toomey said. “Obviously, he had a career night and a night that a lot of kids would relish in Division I lacrosse. The thing that makes Matt is so special is that he’s not going to press to have those types of number. He’s going to take what’s given to him, and I think that’s what the whole group is doing in the midfield. They’re taking what’s given to them and making the most of their shots.”
Sawyer is fully aware that fans and observers may follow him to see if he’s a one-game wonder or if he can replicate his brother’s numbers. But aside from a hard, heavy shot, Sawyer said he and Mike – who is a second-year attackman for the Charlotte Hounds of Major League Lacrosse – are quite different.
“I would say that he’s faster than me, but I might be a little bit bigger than him,” the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Matt said of his 6-0, 180-pound brother. “I can take a hit a little bit better than he does. We grew up in the backyard shooting ever since we were little, shooting every day. I like to learn from him. He teaches me every day. Playing here with him for three years, I had that bond with him. If I had a question, I was comfortable enough to just ask him to help me out and give me some tips. He really helped me get used to the level of play in collegiate lacrosse.”