Players and the head coach from Loyola's men's lacrosse team speak to the media after their rout of Army West Point Friday night. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)
The Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team has been a strong out at Ridley Athletic Complex and will not have to leave its friendly confines for at least two more weeks.
The No. 8 Greyhounds defeated visiting Army, 12-8, before an announced 1,704 on Friday night to cement the top seed in the upcoming Patriot League tournament and the right to host the semifinals and final.
On a night when the program honored its 10 seniors, Loyola Maryland (10-3, 7-1 Patriot League) earned a piece of the regular-season championship, sharing the title with No. 14 Navy (8-4, 7-1) and No. 12 Bucknell (11-3, 7-1). But because of a tiebreaker involving goal differential among the three teams in the games they played against each other, the Greyhounds earned the No. 1 seed in the league tournament and will host the semifinals April 27 and the final April 29 for the second consecutive year.
That might not bode well for opponents as Loyola is 5-2 at Ridley this season and 17-5 at home since 2016.
"It was big," senior defenseman Foster Huggins said of capturing the No. 1 seed. "Coming into the game, we knew the only way to host was for us to win. Especially it being senior night, that gave us a little extra motivation. At the same time, we try to treat every game the same in the sense that we come out with as much energy as possible, and I think we did that tonight."
The Greyhounds feasted on the transition game, scoring their first five goals in unsettled situations. Senior midfielder Jay Drapeau converted a pass from freshman attackman Kevin Lindley after a failed clear by the Black Knights with 12:29 left in the first quarter. Another failed clear ended with junior midfielder John Duffy scoring with 6:06 remaining.
The second quarter opened with senior faceoff specialist Mike Orefice winning the faceoff and firing the ball off the underside of the crossbar and over the goal line just seven seconds into the period. Orefice then won the ensuing faceoff and set up freshman attackman Aidan Olmstead for a goal six seconds later.
Finally, in transition, senior long-stick midfielder Zac Davliakos found Drapeau alone near the left post to give Loyola a 5-1 lead with 12:42 left in the period.
"When we settled and played in the box defensively, I thought we were pretty good," Army coach Joe Alberici said. "But their transition game absolutely took us apart, particularly in the first half and even into the second half. I know we failed to clear four times, and three of those times in the first half all came back as goals. You can't give a great team second chances, and we just did that a little bit too much."
Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey was most pleased to see his team pick up 42 ground balls to the Black Knights' 31 – an indicator of his team's effort.
"I think the stat that kind of really stands out is the ground balls," Toomey said. "We really hustled. … When you're playing a service academy and you can have the stats in ground balls go in your favor like that, you're doing something that's pretty special."
With junior attackman and leading scorer Pat Spencer (Boys’ Latin) having a quiet outing with two assists, no goals on nine shots and four turnovers, the offense collected eight goals from a midfield of junior P.J. Brown (three goals), Drapeau (two goals) and Duffy (two goals).
"It's great," said Brown, who had his first career hat trick. "Both lines are kind of running on all cylinders now and working well with the attack. Having that patience, no one's going to the goal when there's not an opportunity. Everyone's waiting for the good one, and I think that's what really helped us tonight."
Junior goalkeeper Jacob Stover (McDonogh) stopped 12 shots, and Huggins had six ground balls and four caused turnovers.
Sophomore midfielder ConnorDeWitt and senior attackmanConorGlancy paced Army with two goals each, and junior attackman Nate Jones chipped in one goal and one assist. Junior goalie A.J. Barretto made 11 saves.
But the loss bounced the Black Knights (5-7, 2-6) from the six-team playoffs, which begin Tuesday. Army will miss the conference tournament for the first time since 2004 when the tournament was limited to the top four teams.