Loyola realized what was at stake. The No. 6 Greyhounds knew a win over No. 4 Syracuse would mean a chance to gain the inside edge on a top four seeding and a first-round bye in the NCAA lacrosse tournament -- and to be considered among the season's elite teams.
With so much to play for, no one could say why Loyola looked so listless as the Orangemen trampled the Greyhounds, 23-13, yesterday in front of 3,307.
Loyola's players had no explanations for the school's worst loss in four seasons; no explanations why its normally athletic defense became stationary, allowing the most goals since 1983 and more than 20 for the first time in five years.
"I have no idea why," said Loyola goalkeeper Tim McGeeney, who just stared at the floor, shaking his head. "There's no answer. It was our ticket to getting a bye. Now we have to wonder about making the playoffs. Nothing's for sure now."
The Greyhounds still have Delaware, No. 10 Georgetown and top-ranked Johns Hopkins to play in the regular season.
Midfielder Roy Colsey scored a career-high seven goals as Syracuse (8-2) ran past and through the uninspired Greyhounds (8-2), who fell to 1-2 against Top 10 teams. Loyola tried everything, shifting defensive assignments and moving from a man-to-man to a zone defense.
Nothing worked. The Orangemen constantly had clear paths to the goal and dissected a Loyola defense that had allowed only 6.7 goals per game.
"I think Syracuse is a good team, but we made them look like a great team today," said Loyola coach Dave Cottle, who kept his team in the locker room for a 30-minute meeting after the game.
"There was no emotion in the locker room before the game. We had a bad practice yesterday, which is a good indication on how we are going to play. But I was surprised how bad we were."
At the start of the game, Loyola showed some spirit, trading goals with the run-and-gun Orangemen. There were five ties and neither team led by more than two goals in the first 18 minutes.
Greyhounds midfielder Del Halladay scored an extra-man goal off a rebound to tie the game at 6 with 11:39 remaining before halftime. Then the Orangemen launched their first wave of attack with some flair.
Andy Sharretts scored his first goal of the season. Syracuse goalkeeper Alex Rosier made a kick save in a man-down situation, scooped up the ball and fed a racing Colsey for a score.
Colsey then scored again, leaping for a rebound and shooting while still in the air. And Rob Kavovit contributed a goal for Syracuse while lying flat on the ground.
In all, Syracuse scored four goals in three minutes for a 10-6 lead with 8:04 left in the second quarter.
"We showed a lot of people in Baltimore what Syracuse is all
about," Colsey said. "We made our statement very clear. We're a force to be reckoned with."
That became particularly clear after the Greyhounds closed to ,, within 14-11 with 6:50 left in the third quarter. The Orangemen responded by closing out the period with four straight goals, including three in the final 39 seconds.
"I knew we had the potential, but we didn't put four periods like that together all season," said Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr., whose Orangemen virtually solidified a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year. "We smelled blood, and went after it."
Syracuse 5 8 5 5 -- 23
' Loyola . 4 5 2 2 -- 13
Goals: S--Colsey 7, Sullivan 4, Morrissey 4, Powell 3, Sharretts, Licameli, Fietta, Kavovit, Jackson; L--Halladay 4, O'Shea 2, O'Brien 2, Georgalas 2, Thornton, Dwan, Duffy. Assists: S--Powell 3, Kavovit 2, Colsey, Joyce; L--Bacso 2, Halladay, O'Shea, Duffy. Saves: S--Rosier 15; L--McGeeney 23, Gaiser 2. Att.: 3,307.