No. 7 seed Loyola Maryland's 18-13 loss to eventual national champion North Carolina in the NCAA tournament semifinals was hardly an affair worth remembering for the Greyhounds.
That was especially true for freshman goalkeeper Jacob Stover.
The Hunt Valley resident and McDonogh graduate was pulled from the game after a first quarter in which he made just two saves and surrendered nine goals. The setback was Stover's first of the season since he had replaced sophomore Grant Limone as the team's starter on March 23, but coach Charley Toomey said he has no concerns about the goalie's mental fortitude.
"He had a great meeting with me, and I think he even appreciated the fact that it was a very open dialogue," Toomey said. "He has the right mindset for the summer to go out and continue to work and push himself. He knows what's on the table. He's won games for Loyola, and he'll have the opportunity as a sophomore to do that again."
Toomey understands the fragility of the goaltending position. He started in the school's 21-9 loss to Syracuse in the 1990 title game, making 12 saves before giving way to Tim Dunnigan in the fourth quarter. Toomey said he appreciated Stover's attitude after the first quarter against the Tar Heels.
"I talked to him the second that I pulled him out, and typical of any competitor, he said, 'I don't need to come out, Coach. I've got this. I'm ready,'" Toomey said. "I said, 'Listen, I trust you, and I believe in you, and you're not done for the game by any stretch. We want to see where this thing goes. But you've got to come over and you've got to watch it from my vantage point.' That's a tough decision to make, but sometimes you go with your gut, and sometimes it's because you need a spark and sometimes you don't want to destroy a kid and leave him out there. … You just want to protect your guys."
Stover was replaced by Limone, who posted seven stops while allowing nine goals in the final three quarters against the Tar Heels. Toomey was happy for Limone, who had started in the team's first six games and compiled a 4-2 record.
"I was glad that Grant came in and bulled his neck and was able to dig in and get us some stops," he said of Limone. "It just wasn't going to happen that day, but I was happy for Grant."