Minutes after No. 15 Loyola had put the finishing touches on a convincing 13-8 victory over host Georgetown at Multi-Sport Field Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., Josh Hawkins appeared barely winded. But looks can be deceiving.
"My calves started going by the end of the game," the senior short-stick defensive midfielder said as a wave of relief passed over his face. "I'm dead. I need an ice bath or something. I'm tired."
Hawkins expended himself against the Hoyas in his first contest since sitting out the first six games of the season for violating an unspecified team rule, and the Greyhounds (5-2) were the primary beneficiaries of Hawkins' effort.
His stat line at the end of the contest was one goal on two shots, one assist, four ground balls, two turnovers and three caused turnovers. And Georgetown senior midfielder Dan McKinney posted just one goal on three shots while being primarily guarded by Hawkins
Beyond his personal numbers, however, Hawkins' impact on the defense was pronounced. The Hoyas scored just one goal on 12 shots in the first half, and they committed 13 of their 20 turnovers over the same span as Loyola's defenders poked the balls out of sticks and influenced Georgetown into airing some bad passes.
"We think we're at our best when we play like that," said junior short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Laconi, who added a goal and an assist. "With Josh coming back, that pays dividends to everything. That's the type of defense we want to play the rest of the year. … As long as we keep people to six or seven goals, we feel like we have a good chance of winning every game."
Coach Charley Toomey said the change in the defense was palpable as the team prepared to leave the university's campus in Baltimore.
"We were loading that bus, and he was looking down and grabbing his jersey and throwing it in that bag. The kids were excited, but we see it every day in practice," Toomey said. "So we know we've got a bullet. It was really managing the game for Josh, making sure he didn't try to take over the game and really put Loyola in a bad position. I thought he played within himself. We know what Josh is going to give us – a lot of athleticism and sometimes he'll make that knucklehead play and hopefully as the season develops, he'll settle in and we can be that team we want to be."
Hawkins admitted that he felt a few nerves about his first contest of the season, but he was also cognizant of the need to remain composed.
"I knew I had to keep my head," he said. "I missed the first four games [due to a back injury] last year. So I know what it's like to come back after missing the first few games. The excitement can get the best of you, but I just wanted to prove to Coach that I can keep my composure and just play within my role and support the team."
* With four goals against Georgetown, Zach Herreweyers has scored seven times on 15 shots in the two starts he has made for 2012 Tewaaraton Award finalist and senior Mike Sawyer. It's quite a start for the freshman attackman, who admitted that his acclimation to college lacrosse was not easy. "At the start, it was pretty difficult," Herreweyers said. "I was nervous coming in. My first game was Duke [on March 8]. And then out in Denver [against Air Force last Saturday], I kind of got the jitters out, but I've been feeling really good lately and confident. The guys have done a great job to put me in certain positions. So I feel good out there." Toomey said he's not shocked by Herreweyers' play. "I'm happy for him," Toomey said. "We need him, and I'm glad he's out there on the field and getting his runs."
* Sawyer, who has compiled 13 goals and three assists in six games, is uncertain for Saturday's road contest at Michigan. Toomey said there is "a good chance" that Sawyer could return Saturday, but he said he wouldn't know until Thursday. "We're hoping to get Michael Sawyer back in the very near future," Toomey said. "That will allow us to do some things. I want to see this team at full strength, and that's what I'm waiting to do. I think our kids are excited about that, too. We just have to get over this injury bug."
* One area that troubled the Greyhounds was faceoffs. Georgetown redshirt junior Tyler Knarr won 16 of 23 draws and forced Loyola to move senior Scott Ratliff to take faceoffs in a battle between long-stick midfielders. Ratliff was credited with winning all four of the draws he took in the second half, but Toomey said Ratliff was basically employed to tie up Knarr and allow the Greyhounds' wing players to corral loose balls. "At one point, [volunteer assistant] coach [Steve] Vaikness looked at me and said, 'It's 10-2 their way,'" Toomey said. "It's something we're going to have to address. You can't give up 10 possessions when you're playing this weekend against Michigan or down the road with Ohio State."