Loyola attackman Eric Lusby is on pace for a career year, and he may just have a season-ending knee injury to thank for his surge.
The fifth-year senior tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in an NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Cornell in 2010 and a slower-than-expected healing process forced him to abandon last season.
This spring, he has paired with junior attackman Mike Sawyer to spark the No. 8 Greyhounds to their first 7-0 start since 2002, and the Severna Park native and graduate is enjoying every minute of it.
"I think it was a tremendous help, taking a step back, taking a year off and not playing," Lusby said of redshirting 2011. "Not being able to play with the class that I came in with definitely hurt, but then taking a year back made it just that much more fun again. Going to practice, I enjoy it."
Lusby attempted to come back last season, playing in two games before shutting it down. Lusby, who registered a career-best 25 points on 20 goals and five assists, said his knee made it impossible to play under his usual standards.
"The surgery and everything went fine. It was just the rehab that took a little bit longer than expected," he said. "And when I eventually did get back to where I wanted to be, it was halfway through the year. I wasn't going to play for half the season, so I just shut it down. I felt like I could help the team more the next year at 100 percent than I could at 85 percent last year."
Tying a career high with five goals in Wednesday night's 11-6 victory over No. 20 Georgetown, Lusby has scored 21 goals this season and is tied with Sawyer for the team lead in points with 29 each.
Lusby couldn't say whether he felt he's more dangerous now than before his knee injury.
"I don't know. I guess, maybe, just because I'm physically 100 percent compared to last year," he said. "Last year when I was trying to play in my first couple of games, I could barely dodge and move. Now I can move and get my hands free a lot easier now."
*As one of four remaining undefeated teams in Division I, the Greyhounds are discovering that opponents are placing a target on them. It's an unfamiliar concept, according to coach Charley Toomey. "We're used to being the hunter, and now we feel like we might be the hunted," he conceded. "But I really will give our seniors and our captains a ton of credit. They keep us grounded and they keep us focused, and this team really enjoys practice, and they enjoy each other. That's something that is special. This is a fun team to work with, and I think their preparation every week has allowed us to have some of the success that we've had on the field both offensively and defensively."
*Sophomore goalkeeper Jack Runkel earned his fourth win in four starts, but only once has he cracked double digits in saves. That's actually by design, Toomey said. "When we play good, solid defense and limit a team's shots and looks at the cage, you might end the game with only six saves. That's just the way we play defense," he said. "Sure, you'd love to look up and see 10 saves. But that means they had 10 good looks at the cage, and you're asking your goalie to make those saves. I'll live with five and six saves."
*Toomey singled out sophomore defenseman Joe Fletcher for limiting Hoyas junior attackman Zac Guy – who entered the contest with a team-best nine assists – to a single helper. Fletcher was part of a defensive effort that surrendered just 12 shots on goal to Georgetown. "I think a lot of the accolades right now might be going to our offense, but we are really playing good, solid defense," Toomey said. "We're contesting just about every shot. I felt like every shot that Georgetown took, they had an extra stick get into their gloves. Maybe it was just a little bit of a disruption."