So which school was the top seed again?
Maryland made the 21,194 at Rutgers Stadium ponder the same thought yesterday as the No. 5 Terps dismantled No. 1 Loyola, 19-8, in an NCAA semifinal game. It marked the largest margin of defeat for the top seed in the 28-year history of the Division I tournament.
The Terps (14-2) storm into their third championship game in four years, earning a rematch with two-time defending national champion Princeton tomorrow. Loyola (13-2) had its national-best game win streak stopped.
"When people don't give us respect, we play harder," Maryland senior attackman Andrew Whipple said. "Loyola thinks they are one of the best teams in the country and talked about being a powerhouse, but we wanted to prove we were a little better. Coming into this game, we knew we had the experience and knew if we got on them early, they would fold. And they did."
Maryland demonstrated that conviction and poise early, notching the first six goals of the game to race out to a 10-1 halftime lead. Conversely, the Greyhounds floundered offensively and didn't score against the Terps' defense at full strength until 39: 14 into ,, the game.
"Maryland was better than us from the opening whistle to the end," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "We had an outstanding season. We just got our ears boxed a little bit."
Yet look at the statistics. Loyola maintained an edge in ground balls (51-45), took the same amount of shots as Maryland (43) and held its own on faceoffs, winning 14 while losing 16.
But now analyze the execution.
The Terps shredded through the Greyhounds' four variations of man-to-man defense and two zone defenses to continually set up close-range shots. Maryland, which scored on 19 of 43 shots (44.2 percent), rotated the ball with precision and its cutters moved to find open spots.
Matt Hahn exploited late double teams on the interior, powering in five goals. Scott Hochstadt broke down the zone defenses, roaming to the seams for four goals. And Whipple took what Loyola gave him, pacing the Terps with two goals and five assists.
"In my estimation, we had a very difficult time guarding them," Cottle said. "Their short sticks did a nice job against our short sticks. They were clever in how they set up off the ball inside. So even when we did slide, they had an open guy."
Then there were the Greyhounds, who scored half of their goals off the extra man. Loyola didn't provide any answers on attack, struggling to penetrate Maryland's defense inside 20 yards.
"They pressured us on the outside and banged us around a lot," Loyola attackman Tim O'Shea said. "We really haven't seen a team all year that's done that."
The Terps clamped on that pressure from the onset, when Bob Hanna cranked in two left-handed shots in a seven-second span give Maryland a 2-0 lead 3: 38 into the contest.
It only got worse as Hochstadt scored consecutive goals to increase the Terps' margin to 6-0 two minutes into the second quarter. Maryland proved equally decisive on the other end, stonewalling Loyola for the opening 22 1/2 minutes -- its biggest defensive stand of the season -- before O'Shea converted a man-up goal to end a 14-shot drought.
Nevertheless, that goal only revved up Maryland. Controlling the last five faceoffs of the first half, the Terps scored four goals in 2: 41 and trapped the ball out of Loyola's attack area for the final five minutes.
Maryland missed on just one shot in that run, which Hahn capped by outrunning the Loyola defense to an open space on the crease with 2: 05 left in the second quarter. That ballooned the lead to 10-1, the third-largest halftime gap in a national semifinal game.
"It was our day," Maryland coach Dick Edell said. "I never expected this. I think it was a matter of us having an A game and them having a D game."
Loyola chipped the deficit to 10-3 on two extra-man goals a minute into the third quarter, but the Terps once again tightened the vise. Maryland responded with six straight goals to take its biggest advantage at 16-3 midway through the period. The Greyhounds then never cut the margin under double digits.
"We came out and had a lot to prove to ourselves and everyone else," Hahn said. "We're coming in fifth and Loyola was ranked No. 1. They haven't been here in eight years and we were here last year. It kind of got to us and I think it showed out there."
Lacrosse final four
At Piscataway, N.J.
Maryland 19, Loyola 8
Princeton 11, Syracuse 10
Maryland vs. Princeton, 10: 55 a.m., ESPN
Loyola's 11-goal loss represented the largest margin of defeat for the top seed in NCAA Division I tournament history. A look at losses of five goals or more over the No. 1 seed:
Yr Wnr .. .. .. .. ..Top seed Rnd .. .. .. ..Final
'98 Maryland .. .. ..Loyola Semi .. ... .. .. 19-8
'95 Maryland .. .. ..Hopkins Semi .. .. .. .. 16-8
'87 Hopkins .. .. ...Maryland Semi .. .. .. . 13-8
'78 Hopkins .. .. ...Cornell Final .. .. .... 13-8
'74 Hopkins .. .. ...Maryland Final .. .. .. 17-12
Pub Date: 5/24/98