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Mike Preston

Mike Preston: Final stretch the focus for Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse after 14-9 loss to No. 16 Boston University | COMMENTARY

Minutes after No. 16 Boston University men’s lacrosse had taken control of Saturday’s game with a dominant third quarter and defeated host Loyola Maryland, 14-9, in front of an announced crowd of nearly 1,000 at the Ridley Athletic Complex, Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey started focusing on the future.

It wasn’t the immediate future, which begins Tuesday at Georgetown against the No. 2 Hoyas, but games against Colgate and No. 20 Lehigh on April 23 and 29, respectively.

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Loyola (5-6, 4-2 Patriot League) needs to keep winning against conference opponents to improve its seeding in the six-team Patriot League Tournament and possibly earn a bid to the NCAA Division I Tournament.

The Georgetown game is important, but Toomey is keeping things in perspective.

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“Georgetown is a great Jesuit rivalry and believe me, our coaches are going to do everything possible to win the game,” Toomey said. “But we also have to be smart and realize that our next two games are bigger games, and I told my team that in the locker room.”

In a profession where head coaches are always talking about the next game, Toomey is dealing with reality. A win against the Hoyas would earn the Greyhounds respect, but not a ticket to the big dance.

Before Saturday’s games, Boston University (9-3) was tied for first place in the Patriot League with Lehigh at 5-0 in conference play, followed by Army (5-1) and Loyola, which had won five of its previous six games.

“We’re at the point where we need to start looking at the league, see where it falls,” Toomey said. “No one in the league scares us, so now we’ve got to start looking in the training room tomorrow and find out who is or isn’t available. We’ve got to be smart.”

The Greyhounds need to be tougher, too. They were tied with the Terriers at the half, 5-5, but were outscored 6-2 in the third quarter. Loyola scored the first goal of the quarter with 10:07 left but didn’t score again until there was 1:19 remaining.

During that time, Boston University won almost every one-on-one matchup, scoring from behind the cage, in front of the crease or from long range. Attackman Louis Perfetto led the Terriers with two goals and six assists, while attackman Vince D’Alto added three goals and one assist.

“We gave up some soft goals in the third quarter and didn’t connect on our soft goals,” Toomey said. “We’ve got to get better offensively and defensively so we can see these guys, these teams again. If we continue to give up four- or five-goal runs, it’s going to be a short season.

“We’ve got to learn to bull our necks, become a tougher defensive team. When things are not going our way and teams are starting to play ‘make it, take it’ on us, we’ve got to find a way to stop that.”

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Loyola also has to cut down on turnovers. The Greyhounds committed 17 on Saturday, including 12 in the second half. They could never mount a serious comeback attempt because they had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Boston University proved it can win the conference title. A week ago, the Terriers suffered a 22-15 loss to No. 4 Yale, then lost 12-7 to No. 3 Princeton four days later.

The Terriers struggled in the first quarter Saturday with a new makeshift lineup, but they kept turning up the pace in the final three quarters.

In the third, a close game was close to becoming a rout.

“Loyola played well in the first quarter. Their goalie had four or five saves in the first period, and we were mixing and matching,” Boston University coach Ryan Polley said. “It’s the first time in a while that we had a week to prep for a game. We’ve got to get better.

“Every week we want to push this thing forward, and this was our best game of the year against a quality opponent, and that’s a great thing.”

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Boston University appeared as if it was going to go into the half with a one-goal lead as the Terriers scored two straight, the second by D’Alto, to go up 5-4 with 2:13 remaining in the second quarter.

But Loyola midfielder Matthew Benus, on an assist from midfielder Ryan McNulty, scored on a long shot with 1:58 remaining to tie the score at 5 at the break.

By halftime, both teams had taken 21 shots, but Loyola held an advantage in ground balls (17-9) and faceoffs (7-5). D’Alto had two goals in the first half while attackman Kevin Lindley paced the Greyhounds with two. Attackman Aidan Olmstead also had two assists.

The second quarter was played at a faster pace than the first, which ended tied at 1. Lindley scored a fast-break goal on an assist from Olmstead and Terriers midfielder Tommy Bourque slipped in a midrange goal with 6:46 left in the first quarter to tie the game.


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