'Backbone' of defense came through in Loyola's men’s lacrosse win over Boston University

Junior goalkeeper Jacob Stover (0), pictured earlier this season, overcame a poor first half to help lift the top-seeded Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team to a 13-8 victory over No. 6 seed Boston University in a Patriot League tournament semifinal Friday.

Goalies usually prefer facing long-range or poor-angle shots to get into a rhythm. It was just the opposite for Jacob Stover.

The junior goalkeeper for the No. 8 Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team was forced to make a point-blank save on Boston University junior midfielder Brendan Homire with less than nine minutes to go in the third quarter of Friday's Patriot League tournament semifinal at Ridley Athletic Complex. That stop was one of four Stover made in that period and one of six in a second half when the top-seeded Greyhounds sprinted past the sixth-seeded Terriers for a 13-8 victory.


And the save boosted Stover's morale.

"There was one in the third quarter that was on top of the goal, but I feel like for me, that was what got me in the groove and gave me back that confidence I needed to have," said the Hunt Valley and McDonogh graduate, who was named the conference's Goalkeeper of the Year.


After giving up seven goals and making just three stops in the first half, Stover surrendered only one goal in the second half, anchoring a defense that was at times too quick to slide within its zone schemes.

"Whether or not we're in a man or zone, we need Stove to be the backbone of our team and to see him kind of steal a few, I think he stole a few to get us going," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "And then once that happens and we're playing with energy, now we're trail checking, and now we're really on hands, and we're getting there, and we're skewering to shooters. It was really the energy that we were missing."

Said Stover, who entered the game ranked 11th in Division I in goals-against average (8.40) and 27th in save percentage (.521): "I was trying to do too much in that first half. I got a little jittery and wasn't able to settle down until that first save in the second half. So I was able to focus in. Guys said, 'Just focus on your job and we're going to let you see the shots you need to see.' From there on out, the guys did a great job of allowing me to see those 12- to 15-[yard shots] from those right and left wings."

Boston University coach Ryan Polley seemed to know that his team's 7-6 lead at halftime would not last long if the offense did not continue to solve Stover in the second half.

"We talked about scoring on our first [shot] coming out for the third quarter and not to give Stover any kind of momentum, and I think he made maybe the first six saves," Polley said. "He was really feeling it in that second half. So credit to him to bounce back. That's why he's the conference's Goalie of the Year. He made some big saves."