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Navy travels to Loyola Maryland to complete men’s lacrosse trilogy

Navy coach Joe Amplo used several boxing analogies when discussing Tuesday night’s Patriot League tournament quarterfinal showdown with Loyola Maryland.

That is somewhat fitting as this matchup has become a trilogy, similar to that staged by Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

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Round 1 went to Loyola, which beat Navy, 14-10, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The Greyhounds raced to an 8-2 halftime lead then held off the Midshipmen.

Round 2 was a complete reversal with Navy traveling to Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore and stunning Loyola on its own turf, 14-12. This time the Midshipmen came out breathing fire and built a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

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Trailing 11-5 early in the third period, the Greyhounds rallied to tie the score at 12 before giving up two goals in the final five minutes of regulation.

“We’re expecting this to be a 15-round fight. They’re going to punch us, and we need to take it, stand in there toe-to-toe and punch back,” Amplo said. “I think it’s going to be an absolute war [Tuesday] night. It’s win-or-go-home now. It’s Game 7 for both teams.”

The winner of Tuesday’s game advances to the semifinals against Army Friday night at Lehigh. This marks the first time Navy and Loyola have squared off in the Patriot League tournament.

Loyola attackman Kevin Lindley amassed five points on three goals and two assists in the first meeting on April 3, while Bailey Savio captured 19 of 28 faceoffs as the visitors dominated possession and pretty much played make-it, take-it throughout the first half and into the third quarter.

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It was a different story in the second meeting as Navy’s Jacob Jarosz won 15 of 25 draws to give the Mids a decided possession advantage. Senior attackman Christian Daniel dished off five assists and scored the clinching goal into an empty net with 1:28 remaining to lead Navy.

“Faceoffs were a huge factor in both games. Jarosz did an outstanding job in the second half of the rematch and we need another effort like that [Tuesday] night.”

Loyola senior Sam Shafer started the first game, making 12 saves, and junior Freeman Whitaker started in the second meeting and struggled, giving up 10 goals and stopping just seven shots. Shafer took over between the pipes and helped spark the comeback.

Shafer has since solidified himself as the starter and was named Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week on Monday in recognition of recording 13 saves to anchor an 11-9 upset of No. 6 Georgetown.

“I think [Shafer] is playing his best lacrosse and has a lot of confidence,” Amplo said. “We can’t take bad shots. If the kid’s going to make saves, we need to make them tough.”

Amplo is predicting a contrast in playing styles in Round 3 with Navy trying to make it a six-on-six affair. The second-year coach thinks Loyola is going to push the pace in the hope of scoring some unsettled goals.

“If we can play the game inside the box, I feel pretty good about how we match up on both ends of the field,” Amplo said. “I think Loyola is going to try to make the game as fast as possible. They’re very good at running defense to offense, so we need to limit their transition.”

Amplo expects the Greyhounds to be aggressive defensively to take the Mids out of their offense and force turnovers.

Charley Toomey, an Anne Arundel County native in his 16th season as Loyola coach, acknowledged the rarity of playing one team three times in a season and admitted there will be no secrets.

“We certainly feel like we know Navy as well as any Patriot League opponent,” Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. “We’re not changing anything in our scouting report, and I would imagine they’re not changing theirs.”

Navy, which is tied with Drexel for No. 13 in the latest Inside Lacrosse media poll, exorcised some demons by beating Loyola in Baltimore. The Midshipmen were outscored 53-19 in their three previous trips to Ridley Athletic Complex.

One week later, Navy knocked off No. 10 Army, 9-4, and carries a three-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s contest.

“I think Navy shares the ball as well as any team in the country. They’re very unselfish, which makes them very dangerous,” Toomey said. “You’re seeing a lot of guys step up and play well. They’re a complete team right now.”

Toomey was disappointed the Midshipmen came out with more energy than the Greyhounds in the last meeting. Loyola allowed four extra man goals and three more in transition.

“We can’t foul, and we can’t give up transition goals. We have to try to make it a six-on-six game,” said Toomey, whose squad is now ranked 16th. “We’ve just got to go out and play Loyola lacrosse. We need to have energy on our sideline, and we need to compete for 60 minutes.”

NO. 13 NAVY@NO. 16 LOYOLA MARYLAND

Tuesday, 5 p.m.

STREAM: ESPN+

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