This one is not about revenge. It's not about a high school lacrosse recruit ignored by his hometown college. For Loyola's Brian Duffy, it's about fun.
That's what today's game at Curley Field between No. 4 Syracuse and No. 6 Loyola will be for Duffy, the Greyhounds' leading scorer who grew up in the shadow of the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. His home in suburban Camillus and his high school, lacrosse-famous West Genesee, are only 10 minutes from the stadium.
"I have a lot of friends on the Syracuse team, guys I went to school with or played with during the summer," Duffy said. "This will be fun. It'll be on the radio back home; all Syracuse's games are on radio. Syracuse-Loyola is always a big game. If we win, it'll really help us."
Duffy wasn't recruited by Syracuse. In fact, he says, he wouldn't have gone there if he had been wooed. Sure, he paid attention to Syracuse lacrosse while he was growing up, in part because the Orangemen were so good and because the roster was peppered with West Genesee graduates.
In New York in particular, West Genesee connotes lacrosse success. The school won the state championship in Duffy's sophomore and junior years and lost no more than one game a season for 15 straight years until he was a senior, when it dropped five. The coach, Mike Messere, has won eight state titles.
"I wanted to get out of Syracuse. After 18 years, I needed a change of pace," said Duffy, who was recruited by Princeton, Georgetown and Cornell as well as Loyola. "My parents and sister went to Jesuit schools, and I liked the Loyola atmosphere, the fact Baltimore was a bigger city than Syracuse. I thought I could be successful academically, socially and athletically."
After posting respectable numbers in his first two years at Loyola, Duffy has blossomed this season. With 44 points, he has 19 more than second-leading scorer Del Halladay. He has 25 assists; no one else is in double figures.
Part of his scoring success stems from the fact that for the first time in his life he is an attackman. Coach Dave Cottle, citing the young attack unit and injuries, switched him from midfield after Loyola was held to a season-low 10 goals in a loss to Brown.
In the three games since, all victories, Duffy has collected 14 assists, leaving him, with four regular-season games and the NCAA tournament remaining, 13 shy of the Loyola Division I record set last year by Sean Heffernan.
"We have three freshman attackmen," Cottle said, ticking off the names of Chris Georgalas, Tim O'Shea and Todd Vizcarrondo. "Plus, we had fifth-year senior Pat Ervin coming off a knee injury. Then, early this season, Kevin Lutz, our top goal-scorer last year, went out for the season with a knee injury."
Interpretation: Loyola needed offense. "Brian is a lefty feeder, the only one we have," Cottle said. "With all our right-handed attackmen, we needed a lefty feeder."
Cottle told Duffy before the season he probably would dabble at attack this season, but the junior never suspected his midfield days would be behind him.
No. 4 SYRACUSE (7-2) at No. 6 LOYOLA (8-1)
Site: Curley Field
Time: 2 p.m.
Outlook: Both teams are trying to gain inside position for a top four seed and a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament. Loyola defeated UMBC, 21-5, Friday for its third consecutive victory. Syracuse has won five straight since an overtime loss to Johns Hopkins. The Orangemen have a powerful offensive attack that averages 16.3 goals and 53.8 shots. The Greyhounds counter with an experienced defensive unit led by senior G Tim McGeeney (.713 save percentage). Loyola is paced offensively by junior A Brian Duffy (19 goals, 25 assists) and senior M Del Halladay (19, six). Freshman Casey Powell has 25 goals and 17 assists to lead Syracuse, which has four players with 32 or more points. The Orangemen won last year's meeting, 16-10, at the Carrier Dome and lead the series 6-1.