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Loyola Maryland at Georgetown men's lacrosse: Three things to watch

Loyola's Jack Carrigan sends Navy faceoff man Brady Dove to the turf, dislodging the ball in the first quarter. The Navy Midshipmen played the visiting Loyola Greyhounds in men's NCAA lacrosse on March 19, 2016 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Loyola's Jack Carrigan sends Navy faceoff man Brady Dove to the turf, dislodging the ball in the first quarter. The Navy Midshipmen played the visiting Loyola Greyhounds in men's NCAA lacrosse on March 19, 2016 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

Loyola Maryland commands a 31-7 advantage in this series, but had a seven-game winning streak snapped when Georgetown won, 13-12, on March 18, 2015 at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore. The Greyhounds haven't lost a road game in this rivalry since April 14, 2007.

No. 17 Loyola (4-3) has dropped three of its last four contests including its past two games against No. 11 Duke and No. 14 Navy. An offense that has averaged 9.3 goals thus far will likely be forced to play without senior attackman Zach Herreweyers (head), who is tied for first on the team in goals (11) and ranks second in points (16). Look for junior Jordan Germershausen (Calvert Hall), who has scored two goals this year, to make his third career start in Herreweyers' place.

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Georgetown (1-6) has lost three straight contests since upsetting then-No. 8 Hofstra, 11-6, on March 5. An offense that has averaged 8.1 goals will play its third consecutive game without junior midfielder Peter Conley (foot), who leads the team in assists (nine) and ranks second in points (16) but is out for the remainder of the season. Fifth-year senior Joe Bucci has recorded five goals and two assists in two starts for Conley.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Cooper Field in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

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1) Loyola's defense. Navy scored five goals in the first quarter of Saturday's eventual 10-9 win against the Greyhounds and chased sophomore goalkeeper Grant Limone out of the game in favor of freshman Jacob Stover (McDonogh). Stover made four saves and allowed five goals in the final three periods after Limone did not make a stop. While coach Charley Toomey elected to keep the identity of his starting goalie close to the vest, he said the defense must do a better job of shutting off opponents' high-percentage chances.

"Offensively and defensively, we have to get into a flow, we have to get into a rhythm and give our goalies a chance to see the ball," Toomey said. "That's been the message, and that's been the message all season. But really, it's been pretty crystal clear right now. We've got to give our goalies a chance and play good, solid defense in front of them."

2) Loyola's faceoffs. The Greyhounds have struggled with draws, having won just 43.8 percent (67-of-153) so far. But junior Graham Savio and sophomore Mike Orefice claimed 8 of 12 faceoffs in the second half against Navy, suggesting that perhaps the faceoff unit has found an answer. And Georgetown has fared even worse on draws after winning just 36.2 percent (59-of-163) on the backs of sophomores Peter Tagliaferri (38.3 percent on 31-of-81) and Riley Mann (34.6 percent on 28-of-81).

"We're both trying to find ourselves there," Toomey said. "I was happy with some of the steps that we took, but we still have to hone in and execute our assignments on the wings. We had some lapses there, and it hurt us. But you kind of fine-tooth comb everything, and if we can get a little bit better in every spot, we'll be all right."

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3) Loyola's clears. The Greyhounds rank seventh in Division I in clears, succeeding 90.1 percent (100-of-111) of the time. But opponents have cleared the ball just 79.8 percent (91-of-114) against Georgetown, and that number stood out to Toomey more than the Hoyas' 82.8 success rate (96-of-116) on clears.

"I like the way we ride," he said. "You really have to make a decision when you ride as to whether or not you're going to allow your offensive middies to be on the field and play defense. That's what we're trying to figure out as coaches. If you look at their clearing numbers, teams are struggling to clear against Georgetown. So priority No. 1 for Loyola is to get the ball down there if we can get a stop. Priority No. 2 might be to ride a little bit, but we've got to firm up against their ride, which I think is a pretty strong ride after watching the film."

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