For only the second time this season, junior attackman and leading scorer Pat Spencer did not score a goal in game, going 0-for-9 in the No. 8 Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team's 12-8 victory over visiting Army West Point at Ridley Athletic Complex on Friday night.
Granted, Spencer (Boys' Latin) might already be a lock to be named one of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award. He will probably not lose much sleep considering he had two assists and the Greyhounds (10-3, 7-1 Patriot League) grabbed a share of the regular-season championship and earned the No. 1 seed and the right to host the conference tournament next weekend.
What is encouraging for Loyola coaches and fans is that Spencer's teammates compensated for his absence from the scoreboard. Junior midfielder P.J. Brown led all scorers with three goals, and senior midfielder Jay Drapeau, junior midfielder John Duffy and freshman attackman Kevin Lindley chipped in two goals each.
"Pat's always going to be there," Brown said. "He was a little quiet tonight, but I mean, everyone's stepping up into a role now, and I think as we continue to play here, we're going to see more of that. So I think having that diversity of many players being able to contribute has now really helped us a lot."
But Spencer proved he can contribute in other ways. After the Black Knights ran off three straight goals to close to 10-7 with 12:59 left in the fourth quarter, Spencer stripped senior midfielder Matthew Donovan of the ball at the mid-line and sprung Lindley for a 2-on-1 fast break that he finished to give the Greyhounds some much-needed breathing room.
"They're making a little bit of a run, and Pat, like he always does, he's real crafty right around that mid-line," coach Charley Toomey said. "He put the ball on the ground and was kind of able to get some early transition, and Kevin finished it up. Sometimes you look at Pat out here, and he doesn't mind running to the defensive end. We don't want him to do that, but when he's down there, I'm not too worried. He's probably the best player in the country in my opinion – certainly on the offensive end. If he was a middie, the best middie in the country. He could be a two-way middie. He's just that athletic and has such a good IQ for the game. That was a huge play for us."
Spencer did not score a goal (but did have three assists) in the team's 13-9 loss to No. 3 Duke on March 10 thanks to the play of junior defenseman Cade Van Raaphorst. On Friday, Army junior defenseman Johnny Surdick, an Odenton resident, held off Spencer.
Black Knights coach Joe Alberici called Surdick "one of the very best defensemen in the country." But Alberici acknowledged that Spencer hit the goal posts a couple times, and he was more frustrated by his team's inability to prevent the Greyhounds from scoring five goals in unsettled situations.
"I don't want to say we wasted Johnny's effort," Alberici said. "He was really good, but we knew we had to be good in all of the other spots, and I think it just became a transition game. It was about five or six goals that they had, and second-chance opportunities accounted for about the other three. That part is the most disappointing. The No. 1 key to victory for us was to strangle the transition. That was No. 1 – even above [Spencer]. We just did a poor job of that."