Senior defenseman Foster Huggins (pictured defending against Navy) and the rest of the defense for the No. 10 Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team shut out Georgetown for 19:35 to help secure an 11-8 win on Tuesday afternoon.
Senior defenseman Foster Huggins (pictured defending against Navy) and the rest of the defense for the No. 10 Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team shut out Georgetown for 19:35 to help secure an 11-8 win on Tuesday afternoon. (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

With Pat Spencer in the fold, the Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team has annually had one of the top offenses in Division I.

The Greyhounds would like you to know that their defense isn't too shabby either.

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For the seventh time in 11 games, Loyola's defense held an opponent under 10 goals. On Tuesday afternoon, the No. 10 Greyhounds applied the brakes to host Georgetown's offense in an 11-8 victory before an announced 765 at Cooper Field in Washington.

The Greyhounds (8-3) are one of only four teams in the country that boast a top-10 offense and a top-15 defense. (No. 1 Maryland, No. 2 Albany and No. 5 Duke are the others.) But they are often overlooked for having one of the toughest defenses to solve, which does not seem to bother Foster Huggins.

"We always joke about how the offense gets all the credit, but with the best player in the country in Pat Spencer, he's going to get his due," the senior defenseman said. "But defensively, we like to keep our heads down and do our jobs. I guess part of playing defense is you don't always get the credit. You just go out there."

Men’s lacrosse National Player of the Week (April 10): Tommy Lingner, UMBC

The freshman goalkeeper’s 16-save effort sparked UMBC to an 11-7 upset of then-No. 1 Albany on Friday night.

Spencer, the junior attackman who hails from Davidsonville and graduated from Boys' Latin, certainly did his part with two goals and five assists against the Hoyas, becoming the Patriot League's all-time leader in assists with 147. Senior midfielder Jay Drapeau led all players with a game-high four goals.

But after enjoying a 7-4 lead at halftime, the offense labored to find the net in the third quarter. Georgetown (7-4) took advantage, getting goals from junior attackmen Daniel Bucaro just 1:14 into the quarter and Austin McDonald off a feed from Bucaro with 6:19 left to close the gap to 7-6.

That's when Loyola's defense tightened up, shutting out the Hoyas over a 19:35 stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters. During that time, Georgetown sophomore attackman Jake Carraway (St. Mary's) rang a shot off the post that would have tied the score, the Greyhounds defense caused three turnovers and pounced on an unforced error, and junior goalkeeper Jacob Stover made two of his game-best nine saves.

Stover, a Hunt Valley resident and McDonogh graduate, said coach Charley Toomey and defensive coordinator Matt Dwan pointed out the Hoyas' tendency to hold the ball for long stretches with the hope of luring a tiring defense into breaking down.

"We knew we had to deal with those two- and three-minute possessions," Stover said. "They talked to us about the Denver game and how there were six minutes that they just ran off the clock. So we knew we were going to have to sit down and play aggressive defense, and that when we had those opportunities to put the ball on the ground, we had to get them up and out."

Huggins, who had two ground balls and one caused turnover, said the defensive philosophy is built on pressuring opposing offenses.

"I think Stover knows that sometimes we may give up a shot on the crease because we play so aggressively," he said. "But at the same time, if he's seeing the ball well, we're able to go out and play aggressively, and offenses are going to have a tough time scoring. We kind of feed off each other."

Toomey said the coaches are comfortable relying on a defensive unit that starts five seniors to set the tone.

"That's a pretty veteran group," he said. "I think Coach Dwan does a very good job of preparing those guys for what they're going to see. I thought they battled. We made sure we got poles to who we thought were their most dangerous stretch shooters and dodgers, and that meant short-sticking an attackman. I thought the plan worked. The guys stayed the course and gave Stover a couple that he could see from the outside."

Bucaro paced Georgetown with two goals and three assists, but coach Kevin Warne tipped his hat to Loyola's aggressiveness.

"We didn't consistently handle their pressure," he said. "I thought 20 [Huggins], 44, 17 [senior short-stick defensive midfielders Jared Mintzlaff and Brian Begley, respectively], their close defense just did a really good job of not allowing us to get into a rhythm, and I think that really hurt."

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Loyola Maryland 3 4 2 2 — 11

Georgetown 3 1 2 2 — 8

Goals: L—Drapeau 4, Spencer 2, Brown, Cox, Duffy, Lindley, McGovern; G—Behrens 2, Bucaro 2, McDonald 2, Berge, Wittenberg. Assists: L—Spencer 5, Begley, Duffy; G—Bucaro 3, Wittenberg 2, Berge, Carraway. Saves: L—Stover 9; G—Marrocco 6.

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