The Towson-Loyola game lived up to expectations. The Greyhounds looked like a team that could make a run in the postseason, and the Tigers looked like a team trying to rebuild.
No. 16 Loyola held on for an 11-8 victory before an announced 2,436 at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. The Greyhounds (1-1) dominated for three quarters, and No. 20 Towson (0-1) had no answer for Loyola junior attackman Collin Finnerty, or the Greyhounds' superior talent at midfield.
Finnerty finished with four goals, including one with 13 minutes, 10 seconds left in the game that halted a brief Towson comeback attempt as the Tigers had pulled within 9-5 only 16 seconds earlier. As for Loyola's midfield, the Greyhounds were bigger, stronger and faster and dominated play in the middle of the field.
"We told our guys that you can't give [Finnerty] his hands," Tigers coach Tony Seaman said. "He ran through us only once, but if you give him the ball at 10 to 12 yards and allow him to get his hands away from his body, then he will bury the shots. Well, he got his hands away from his body. We watched film, and our coaches told the players what would happen. We're young, so now our guys realize we know what we're talking about."
Towson either started or played seven players who were getting the first extensive playing time of their careers. It was also the season opener for the Tigers as opposed to Loyola, which was trying to rebound after a 10-9 loss to No. 14 Notre Dame in its opening game a week ago.
The difference showed early in the game as Towson committed 11 turnovers in the first half and only five in the second. But after two quarters, Loyola had a 6-2 lead.
"They have a lot of new faces," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "Before the game, we had to look over the roster to see who we were going to match our poles up against. I think we came out with a lot of energy, which was good, but we kind of slowed down at the end. Collin Finnerty buried his shots, and I thought [goalie] Jake Hagelin closed the door when he had to."
Loyola took a 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Towson scored two straight to pull within 4-2 with 7:30 left in the half. But with 5:25 left, Towson goalie Rob Wheeler made a save and threw a safe pass to sophomore defenseman Marc Ingerman about 15 yards away. Ingerman was uncovered but still threw a pass back to Wheeler who stayed in front of the goal. Wheeler never saw the pass, and the ball went in for a Loyola goal, which halted Towson's momentum.
"That was a major turning point in the game after battling back from 4-0," Seaman said.
When asked whether Ingerman had explained why he threw back to Wheeler, Seaman said: "No, I think he was afraid to."
Towson started to jell and become comfortable late in the third quarter, and that feeling carried over into the early minutes of the fourth. Tigers attackman Matt Lamon, a freshman from St. Mary's, scored back-to-back goals within a 30-second period to pull Towson within 9-5 with 13:16 remaining in the game.
But six seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Finnerty scored, and then 47 seconds later, Loyola attackman Mike Sawyer blew by Peter Mezzanotte for a goal to end any thoughts of a comeback.