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If Loyola University men's lacrosse coach Charley Toomey had his way, he wouldn't have played Virginia and Johns Hopkins in consecutive games to open the season. But he virtually had no choice, and the Greyhounds are winless.

Loyola will get somewhat of a breather this week when the Greyhounds open their Patriot League conference schedule against Lafayette, but now it's time to repair the damage after the first two games.

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It is fix-it time.

"I could wish all I want but I don't have my way," said Toomey about the schedule. "Virginia is sitting on an open week just like we are before the tournament starts and I have proposed playing that week, but they don't want to do it. I have talked to all the ACC schools and maybe they don't want to travel over exam week. The women do it in lacrosse, and I think it is a realistic request to play on the last great weekend before the tournament."

"Right now, though, I have to look at my locker room and I see we're not playing with confidence, not from the first two games," said Toomey. "We've had our opportunities and I think these games will help us in the future. It's not where we are now; it's where we get to."

It's not panic time yet on the Loyola campus. The Greyhounds have won two of the last three Patriot League titles to gain an automatic berth into the NCAA Division I tournament. But before that can happen again, they need to improve on defense.

Loyola lost 16-15 to Virginia and then 14-13 to Hopkins on Saturday in overtime. Besides poor communication, the Greyhounds have lacked toughness, a sense of urgency and a willingness to work through picks. They have allowed opposing attackmen to get top side on them again and again, leaving goalie Jacob Stover vulnerable.

Loyola had 15 turnovers while the Blue Jays had only six. Part of it was because Hopkins pressured the ball on defense and Loyola either couldn't or wouldn't.

"Hopkins is a very good offensive team, and we knew going in we might give up a few goals," said Toomey. "But when we're playing really good Loyola defense, three or four of those come off the board. But this isn't just about our defense; we have other areas to improve on as well."

Agreed.

Besides the high number of errors against Hopkins, the Greyhounds also had 19 turnovers against Virginia. Part of that can be attributed to Loyola's run-and-gun style, but the Greyhounds also have been careless with the ball. Loyola is shuffling a lot of players in at midfield, which includes an entirely new second unit.

The Greyhounds also have been hurt by injuries with defenseman Jack Carrigan (arm) and short stick midfielder Ryan Fournier (hamstring) missing Saturday's game, and fourth attackman Jordan Germershausen missing the second straight game in violation of team rules.

Toomey, though, doesn't want to make excuses. He wants answers. There have been some bright spots for Loyola. Led by attackman Pat Spencer, midfielder Alex McGovern and face-off specialist Graham Savio, the Greyhounds are scoring goals in bunches.

"We haven't seen that until this year," said Toomey of Savio's scoring ability. "He has had to step up because they are holding on our attack and he is not relying on our wings, but just going out and getting [the ball] himself."

Even without Fournier, short stick middies Brian Begley, Jared Mintzlaff and Matt Higgins have played well. And though they are 0-2, the Loyola losses have come against No. 4 Hopkins (3-0) and No. 7 Virginia (2-0).

"I like this team, I like the group of guys we have in the locker room," said Toomey. "A lot of the things that we are doing wrong are fixable, and we're going to take care of them. These types of games are good for us in the future. As I told our kids after the Hopkins game, there is still a lot of lacrosse left. Our problems can be fixed."

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