At 7:15 p.m. Saturday, members of the Loyola Maryland and Virginia men’s lacrosse teams were itching to begin their NCAA tournament first-round game. But just before the opening faceoff, lightning appeared on the horizon surrounding Ridley Athletic Complex and players and coaches were sent to the locker rooms while fans huddled under overhangs or in their cars.
Per NCAA regulations, the sky must be devoid of lightning for 30 minutes before the teams can return to the field, and a new flash of lightning resets the clock. The weather delay lasted 2 hours, 14 minutes.
The inclement weather did not seem to affect the No. 6-seeded Greyhounds terribly as they raced to a 10-5 advantage at halftime en route to a 14-12 win against the Cavaliers to advance to the quarterfinals. But a couple of players acknowledged the unusual situation of waiting.
“It was tricky,” senior midfielder Jay Drapeau said. “We’re all fired up and ready to go and walking out and then we head back in. At first, we’re kind of looking at the clock, and it says 30 minutes, and we’re like, ‘All right, so we’re just going to chill a little bit and stay in our gear.” Then it gets down to 27 minutes and then back up to 30 minutes and back up to 30 minutes, and it kept going. So we kind of just relaxed. Everyone kind of did their own thing. Everyone’s different. So there wasn’t a rule saying that everybody needs to do this. Everyone kind of decompressed in their own way and got ready the way that they needed to, and I think that helped us.”
Postponing the game to Sunday was a possibility, but Loyola is also hosting a women’s lacrosse tournament second-round game between Navy and the Greyhounds at noon. So getting the men’s game in on Saturday was a priority.
“It was tough to stay mentally ready, just thinking that maybe it’s over and maybe we’ll be going tomorrow,” junior attackman Pat Spencer (Boys’ Latin) said. “So I think Jay said it best. Each guy was doing their own thing and making sure we had to go if we had to go.”
In the visiting locker room, Virginia players tried to take their mind off the long waiting period.
But sophomore midfielder Dox Aitken acknowledged, “It definitely threw us off a little bit.”
“We have a very strict pregame routine, and we were all ready to go,” he said. “It was building up, and we were ready to play and then we saw the lightning. It was kind of a waiting game just sitting in the locker room. I know the 30-minute countdowns just kept resetting every few minutes. It throws you off a little bit, but once we got confirmation that we were going to warm up at 9:10, you can’t blame it on that. They had to do it as well, and they jumped on us early and they caught us off guard a little bit, and it’s just something that we have to fix. We’ve got to be ready to go at all times.”