Two weeks ago, Loyola was off to a 9-0 start that included a convincing 13-8 win against Duke in March, but conventional wisdom suggested that the Greyhounds' biggest test loomed when they had to embark on a three-game road trip that included contests against Eastern College Athletic Conference foes in No. 7 Denver, No. 19 Fairfield and Hobart.
After rallying back for an 8-6 decision over the Stags on April 7, Loyola defeated the Pioneers, 12-9, this past Saturday.
Not only did the Greyhounds (11-0) move one game closer to matching the program's longest winning streak and cementing the top seed in the upcoming league tournament, but they also banished any demons associated with playing in Colorado, where they had lost three straight contests (to Denver in 2010 and to Air Force and Fairfield in 2011).
"I think it was pretty satisfying," coach Charley Toomey said as he and the team disembarked from their flight from Denver to Baltimore on Sunday afternoon. "It's a trip that eluded us of a win, and I'm not even just talking about Denver. I'm talking about just being out in the state of Colorado. It was a great game. Our kids played hard, and they dug in. I can definitely say that fatigue was not a factor. The elevation was not a factor. We're excited. Our kids are playing the right type of lacrosse right now. It's a very balanced team."
At 5-0 in the ECAC, Loyola has a substantial lead over Fairfield (10-2 overall and 3-1 conference), Ohio State (6-6, 3-1) and Denver (7-4, 3-2). Toomey said Saturday night's victory will serve as a reminder when the Greyhounds return to Denver for the league tournament, which takes place May 2 and 4.
"I think it's a big win in the minds of our own guys because we know we're going back out to Denver in two weeks," he said. "So that's probably the most important thing. As I told them last night, 'This is a game you're supposed to win. If you look at the standings, we're supposed to beat them. Denver has to play Loyola tonight.' And I thought we made it tough on Denver in every quarter."