COLLEGE PARK -- Loyola went into the quarterfinals of the NCAA lacrosse tournament having played once in the previous 26 days, and the Greyhounds weren't exactly tested in the first half yesterday, when they sped to a seven-goal lead on Georgetown.
The Hoyas nearly caught the 'Hounds, however, as top-seeded Loyola had to sweat out a 12-11 victory at Byrd Stadium. It wasn't secured until the last 30 seconds, when wing Peter Haas controlled the final faceoff. Now the Greyhounds get Maryland in the semifinals Saturday (noon) at Rutgers.
"This would have been a disappointing season if we hadn't made the Final Four," coach Dave Cottle said. "We had never been seeded No. 1 before, and it was a completely new experience for our kids. Usually, we're the underdog. This time, we were a big favorite."
Loyola (13-1), which set a school record for wins, expected to get to the Final Four for the first time since 1990. It didn't anticipate a fight for survival against unseeded Georgetown (10-5), in its quarterfinal debut.
The Hoyas were revived by a 6-0 run, and Greg Peters got them within one goal for the second time with 31 seconds left, before Haas scooped up the draw and drew a foul, and Mark Frye killed most of the last 20 seconds. Loyola reasserted itself just enough at the end, and averted what would have been an uncharacteristic collapse.
Loyola had owned the third quarter in the regular season, when it outscored the opposition 39-13. Yesterday the Greyhounds were drilled 5-0 by Georgetown, and despite their sharp start, rust appeared to have set in after two weeks of rain and no games since a May 2 win over Johns Hopkins that sealed the No. 1 seed.
"It's great to get a bye, but it's hard to practice for two weeks against yourself," said Jamie Hanford, the defenseman who sees double duty on faceoffs. "We got a little fatigued in the second half, the heat was a big factor and we were doing stupid things. I know I got a little nervous in the second half."
Georgetown won five of the six faceoffs in the third quarter, when Loyola was shut out over a period for the first time this season. The Greyhounds' defense tired, while the offense bickered about not getting the ball.
The Hoyas cut the difference to 9-8 with 12: 17 left when Greg McCavera added to his school single-season point total with his third goal.
Mark Frye, the ace midfielder from Severna Park, ended a scoreless span of nearly 23 minutes with 10: 58 left on a drive and shot from 17 yards out. A minute later, Mike Battista got the ball to Todd Vizcarrondo, and the St. Mary's grad registered plenty of style points with an acrobatic goal.
Tim O'Shea's fourth goal made it 12-9 with 2: 44 left, but Georgetown charged one last time with an extra-man goal, then one from a difficult angle by Peters. Haas hustled in to win the ensuing faceoff, however, and order was restored.
"We did not make a lot of adjustments at halftime," Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. "The seniors just said this was not the way they wanted their season to end."
O'Shea toyed with Georgetown defenders as he pushed Loyola to a 3-0 lead in the first five minutes, and it could have been 4-0, as midfielder Kevin Quinn stole a clear and saw his long shot at an open net bounce off the crossbar. A 6-0 run over the last 19 minutes of the half built that 9-2 lead, before the 'Hounds finally faced a challenge.
It was Loyola's 19th straight win over Georgetown, but its first as a No. 1 seed. The Greyhounds earned that nod by running past Syracuse at its game, and handling Charles Street rival Johns Hopkins in a defensive struggle. Now Cottle gets his first shot this decade at Maryland, which for the first time since 1992 won't be host to the Final Four.
"That'll be a lot of fun," Cottle said. "The best thing is that we won't be playing Maryland at Byrd Stadium, we'll be playing Maryland at Rutgers."
Pub Date: 5/18/98