For the second straight year, Loyola Maryland’s men’s lacrosse season ended with a three-goal loss in an NCAA tournament slugfest; No. 3 seed Yale topped the Greyhounds, 8-5, in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
No. 6 seed Loyola (13-4) was led by a career-high 19-save performance from junior goalie Jacob Stover (McDonogh) and two goals and an assist from junior attackman Pat Spencer (Boys’ Latin), but struggled in two key areas — facing off and clearing the ball. Yale (15-3) senior Conor Mackie won 12 of 17 faceoffs, and Loyola failed six clears in the second half, finishing 16 of 23 on the afternoon.
“We got a great effort in the goal that sometimes as a coach you’re like, ‘Wow, that one was wasted,’ ” Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. “I thought our goalie was terrific today, gave us a chance to win the game, and that’s probably the most disappointing thing.”
Yale was led by senior attackman Ben Reeves, a Tewaaraton Award finalist who finished with three goals and three assists. To counteract Stover’s hot performance, the Bulldogs got nine saves from freshman goaltender Jack Starr, calming an area of concern coming in as he’d made just 11 saves and allowed 27 goals in their previous two games.
The low-scoring game looked to be anything but in the first quarter as the Bulldogs led 5-3 after the first 15 minutes, but as nearly a half-inch of rain fell on the Shuart Stadium turf on the campus of Hofstra University, defenses adjusted, footing got a little less certain and shooting and passing got sloppier.
“I’ve got to give my team credit,” Toomey said. “I thought defensively we dug in, put ourselves in a position to make it a two-goal game pretty much the whole game. To Yale’s credit, they continued to just keep grinding. It’s a very similar team to ours, in my opinion. A team that just grinds, is physical offensively and defensively.”
Despite the struggles facing off and clearing, Loyola possessed the ball 22 times and took 27 shots, mustering just five goals. It was their lowest offensive output of the season, coming against a Yale defense that entered the day ranked No. 14 in average goals allowed.
“I think the whole game was out of whack for us, out of sorts,” Spencer said. “We never really got into a rhythm offensively. They did a good job dropping back in transition, taking away easy goals and we never got into the rhythm we needed to. The first five minutes we did, and then it kind of stalled.”
For Toomey and the Greyhounds program, this season ends with a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament; as freshmen, this year’s seniors lost to Army West Point in the Patriot League tournament and ended the season 7-8.
“This one hurts,” Toomey says. “You go into your locker room one last time, you thank your seniors for what they’ve done for the program. I feel very good about where our program is.”
For Yale, the Bulldogs are headed back to the final four for the first time since 1990. They’ll take on No. 2 seed Albany at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Saturday. The Bulldogs beat the Great Danes, 14-6, on April 22 in New Haven, Conn.
"It’s a little surreal at this point,” said Yale coach Andy Shay, who took over the program ahead of the 2004 season.
Goals: L — Spencer 2; Duffy; McGovern; Brown. Y — Reeves 3; Daniggelis 2; Tigh; Gaudet; Tevlin. Assists: Spencer. L — Spencer. Y — Morrill 3; Reeves 3. Saves: L — Stover 19; Y — Starr 9. Half: Yale, 6-4
NCAA men’s final four
At Foxborough, Mass.
Saturday, May 26
» No. 3 seed Yale vs. No. 2 seed Albany, TBA, ESPN2
» No. 1 seed Maryland/Cornell winner vs. No. 4 seed Duke/No. 5 seed Johns Hopkins winner, TBA, ESPN2