Playing goalkeeper in men's lacrosse can in many ways be a thankless job. On Saturday, Jacob Stover had some fun.
The junior scored his first career goal on a length-of-the-field heave as time expired in the second quarter, as part of No. 10 Loyola Maryland's offensive outburst in a 23-9 pummeling of visiting Boston University before an announced 1,612 at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.
The Greyhounds improved to 9-3 overall and 6-1 in the Patriot League, where they are tied with No. 11 Bucknell (10-3, 6-1) in the conference. Both of those teams trail No. 17 Navy, which edged Army, 9-8, on Saturday to improve to 8-4 and 7-1 and capture at least a share of the regular-season championship.
A win against the Black Knights (5-6, 2-5) on Friday night would give Loyola a share of the title, the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, a bye to the semifinals and the right to host the semifinals and final at Ridley.
The Greyhounds produced their largest output in goals in a Patriot League game, surpassing the 21 goals scored in a victory over Lafayette in 2014. It was the program's most goals since March 19, 1997, when that squad walloped Fairfield, 24-5.
One of those goals unexpectedly came from Stover, whose Hail Mary attempt landed in front of sophomore goalkeeper Joe McSorley (Calvert Hall), bounced over him, and bounded into the net to give Loyola a 9-6 lead at halftime. The Hunt Valley resident and McDonogh graduate had attempted only one shot in his first 2½ seasons and became the program's first goalie to score a goal since Jake Hagelin in an 8-6 loss at Air Force on March 19, 2011.
Stover is aware that his top priority is preventing opponents from scoring goals, which he did when he snagged an 8-yard shot from Terriers junior attackman James Burr with the second quarter winding down.
"I knew that there was a short amount of time left after the save, and I just heard [senior defenseman] Foster [Huggins] from the right side of the goal area yell, 'Shoot it!' or "Chuck it!' or something like that," said Stover, who finished with four saves. "And I saw there was 2 seconds left and just let it go, and the ball did the rest. I just tried to get it on target. It was a lucky shot, I would say."
Asked when he knew the ball had gone into the goal, Stover replied, "I saw it bounce over him, and I was like, 'Uh, did that go in?' I was like, 'Get down! Get down!' and it did."
While Stover's goal sparked the Greyhounds, it had the opposite effect on Boston University (6-7, 2-5).
"We challenged the guys at halftime to not let that last play at the end of the half affect us, and I think it did," Boston U. coach Ryan Polley said. "It's sports, and it happens, and we just didn't respond off of it."
Loyola coach Charley Toomey called the play an example of Stover's field awareness and the result of some well-timed practice.
"It's something we practiced yesterday," said Toomey, who acknowledged he never scored during his career as a goalkeeper at Loyola. "We thought we were going to see a 10-man [ride from Boston University]. So we took a lot of shots at the goal from our defensive end, and Stover shot a few, too, because we were prepared to see the 10-man."
The Greyhounds took advantage of the momentum created by Stover's goal, using a score from senior midfielder Jay Drapeau just 14 seconds into the third quarter to start a 3-0 run. After senior attackman Jack Wilson scored his second goal of the game for the Terriers, Loyola scored seven times in a row to close out the period.
Freshman attackman Aidan Olmstead tied career highs with four goals and six points, junior midfielder John Duffy scored three times, and Drapeau and freshman attackman Kevin Lindley contributed two goals and one assist each. Junior attackman Pat Spencer said the offense capitalized on its opportunities in the third quarter.
"The looks were there," said the Davidsonville resident and Boys' Latin graduate, who had three goals and six assists. "We knew what we were getting. [Freshman faceoff specialist] Bailey [Savio] did a great job at the X for us and got us the ball down on the other end, and those guys caused some turnovers, too. We played at our own pace today, and once we did, we started burying our chances."
Wilson paced Boston University with two goals and three assists, and McSorley had 10 saves.
Boston University 3 3 1 2 — 9
Loyola Maryland 6 3 10 4 — 23
Goals: B—Burr 2, Gray 2, Wilson 2, Hilburn, Homire, MacLean; L—Olmstead 4, Duffy 3, Spencer 3, Drapeau 2, Lindley 2, Austin, Bagbonon, Begley, Brown, Devereaux, McNulty, Savio, Stover, Swindell. Assists: B—Wilson 3, Gray; L—Spencer 6, Brown 2, Olmstead 2, Devereaux, Drapeau, Jackson, Lindley, McGovern, Wigley. Saves: B—McSorley 10, MacDougall 3, Connelly 1; L—Stover 4, Limone 4.