Brown's Oliver Marti presented irrefutable evidence yesterday against Loyola that his transformation from an indoor lacrosse star to a field player is complete.
It was less than two years ago that the Canadian transferred from the University of British Columbia to Brown. He had never played lacrosse outdoors.
"He may have been the worst player on the team then," said Brown senior Darren Lowe.
The worst no longer, Marti tied an NCAA tournament record with nine goals, as 10th seed Brown eliminated No. 7 Loyola, 19-12, before 2,251 at Curley Field. The record was set by Syracuse's Gary Gait against Navy in 1988.
Brown (12-3) will face No. 2 North Carolina in the quarterfinals Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Yesterday's game was a reversal of the Bears' first meeting with Loyola this year, in the Fleet Invitational March 28 in Providence, R.I. The Greyhounds won that one, 17-12.
"We were better on ground balls in the first game," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "Brown was quicker to the ball this time. They kept picking it up and getting goals, time after time. They hustled and moved at a higher speed than we did."
Marti had three goals in the first meeting and Lowe, the school's all-time scoring leader with 310 points, was held to one. Lowe had three goals and five assists yesterday.
"I think Darren and Oliver took it personally when we didn't play as well as we're capable," Brown coach Dom Starsia said. "To be successful, we have to move our feet on defense and pick the ball off the ground. We were better at those things this time."
Loyola (8-4) was hampered somewhat by two injuries. Faceoff specialist Mark Nugent sprained his ankle in the second quarter and didn't return. Gary Miller, the team's second-leading goal scorer, left the game with a rib injury in the first quarter but returned in the third. He finished with a career-high five goals.
"I was going to the goal and got a stick and a knee in the stomach," Miller said. "I never got hit that hard in my life. I didn't think I'd be able to come back, but as I laid in the training room, I got to thinking how it was my last game."
Miller is nursing more than a rib injury. Cottle said the senior midfielder played all season with a stomach ulcer and an injured knee ligament that will require surgery.
The game was close for a quarter, tied three times, the last at 3-3. By halftime, however, Brown had an 8-4 lead, with Marti scoring five.
Loyola came back in the third quarter as a goal by Jim Blanding shaved Brown's lead to 11-8 entering the final period. That was Blanding's second and final goal of the day, and the last of his career, leaving the senior attackman two shy of becoming the fifth player in school history to score 100.
Brown's high-powered offense, which entered the game with 15.6 goals a game, put it away with eight in the last 15 minutes.
"We hoped to put pressure on their freshman goalie," Starsia said, referring to Tim McGeeney, who this time last year was playing for North County High in the state high school tournament. "When you get a lot of layups, that makes it tough on the goalie."
Marti has 95 goals in two seasons, a team-high 54 goals this year and 29 in the past four games.
Marti, who shoots left-handed, says the adjustment from box to field lacrosse is "tremendous. The weather is different, the field is bigger and there are long poles. One advantage is the goal is bigger."
Said Starsia: "The adjustment is in learning to use all the space. Now Oliver can shoot from the end line and dodge his man, not just work around the cage."
Marti listened thoughtfully as Lowe talked about the prospect of facing second-seeded North Carolina, the defending champion.
"Awed?" Lowe said. "Not at all."
=1 Added Marti, "They won't know what hit them."