At the conclusion of No. 11 Loyola Maryland's 14-6 shellacking of Army in Sunday's Patriot League tournament final at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, the conference announced the All-Tournament team.

While many anticipated freshman attackman Pat Spencer being named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after his title game record-setting 10-point performance, that honor went to faceoff specialist Graham Savio.


The junior won 26-of-40 draws (65.0 percent) and collected 13 ground balls. He saved his best outing for the Black Knights as he outdueled their duo of junior Dan Grabher and senior Alex Daly to the tune of 15-of-23 faceoffs and 11 ground balls.

Savio, who won just 10-of-20 and picked up seven ground balls in the Greyhounds' 12-6 victory on April 26, credited the tutelage of volunteer assistant coach Steve Vaikness.

"The only difference was we went harder in practice," Savio said. "I've got two guys underneath me, and we're all competing, and any of us could be out there at any time – me, [sophomore] Mike Orefice and [freshman] Jake Shriner. They get me ready for game day, for sure."

Loyola coach Charley Toomey said Vaikness, defensive coordinator Matt Dwan and offensive coordinator Ryan Moran have provided counsel to the faceoff unit on how to attack opponents.

"These guys have been listening and more importantly, they've been executing," Toomey said. "So I think it really starts with the preparation of film and then the buy-in by our guys. We've had different plans the last couple of weeks, but they seem to be working. Obviously, when you're timing the whistle as well as Graham is right now, you're going to give yourself a heck of a chance."

Army coach Joe Alberici acknowledged that Savio's play was pivotal in shifting momentum to the Greyhounds.

"I think the biggest piece really had to do with Savio in the middle this time," Alberici said. "…  It really kind of came to that one-on-one, and Savio was really good today. He bested us in that spot and just kind of helped them sustain runs."

Circling back to "Three Things to Watch"

1) Loyola's offense. After scoring just seven goals in a double-overtime win against Bucknell in Friday's Patriot League tournament semifinal, the Greyhounds exploded for 14 tallies – the most surrendered by Army this season. Spencer's display is the first factor to center on, but Toomey said offensive coordinator Ryan Moran's plan to move Spencer to the top of the box and force the Black Knights to either slide or remain with their one-on-one assignments opened up opportunities elsewhere.

"I thought the game plan that Coach Moran put in today to put Pat up top and put the shorties on the wings really exposed them on the inside because they didn't want to come off of Pat," Toomey said. "So we really got some easy looks from the inside. We've handled almost every defensive look that we've gotten this year, and that's a credit to Coach Moran."

2) Army's defense. With the team trailing 7-4 at halftime, Alberici didn't feel panicked and grew even more encouraged when redshirt junior midfielder Brian Sherlock lost the ball within the first 30 seconds in Loyola's offensive zone. But after a scrum, Sherlock came away with the loose ball and fired it to Spencer alone on the doorstep for an 8-4 advantage. That turn of events deflated some of the Black Knights' morale.

"We scoop it up and our guy gets knocked and they pick it up and they throw it to Spencer with nobody within 20 yards of him," Alberici recalled. "So it turned from what would have been a positive play for Army and kind of got us going to get that stop, it turned into a big goal for them, and they were able to pile [Nos.] 9 and 10 on real quick. From there, we were playing and trying to catch up. To beat a team like this, you've got to be exceptional."

3) Loyola's faceoffs. See above.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun