The final minute of quarters has been a boom-or-bust scenario for No. 11 Loyola Maryland.
The Greyhounds (10-3), who are the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League tournament, have scored 12 goals in the final minute of quarters this spring. Their best showing of the season occurred in a 14-3 shellacking of Bucknell (10-4), which happens to be Loyola's opponent as the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament's semifinals on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The offense scored three times – with 32 seconds left in the first quarter and 29 and three seconds remaining in the second.
By the same token, the defense has allowed opponents to score 12 times in the final minute of quarters. The most egregious concession occurred in a 10-9 loss to No. 9 Navy on March 9 in which sophomore attackman Jack Ray scored the game-winning goal with 37 seconds left in regulation.
"We've been on both sides of that," Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. "Obviously, [scoring a goal] gives you a tremendous lift going into your locker room or coming into the huddle. You've got the kids' attention and there's some excitement, and that's really important. You're talking about something that's positive at the end of a quarter versus trying to pick something. That's a credit to [assistant] coach [Ryan] Moran and us kind of being real smart with the ball and not just chucking it, but getting ourselves organized and getting a real good look at the cage."
In its last three contests, Loyola has scored five times in the final minute of quarters. Considering the team nipped Lehigh, 11-10, on April 9 and Boston University, 13-12, on April 16, those goals proved significant.
Toomey knows scoring goals might come at a premium against the Bison, who have not lost since that visit to Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore in late March. Over that span, the defense has allowed just 7.6 goals per game, and the offense has inserted into the starting lineup junior attackman Quinn Collison, who has registered six goals and three assists.
"I think just like Loyola has, Bucknell has gotten better," said Toomey, who estimated that 90 percent of the Greyhounds players watched the Bison's 13-7 victory over Holy Cross in Tuesday's Patriot League tournament quarterfinal. "I think they're playing with a lot of confidence right now. … They've got guys that are playing at a pretty high level. From a scheme standpoint, I don't see a ton of changes, but from a confidence standpoint, I see a major change."