Too much talent, too much skill and too much experience.
Loyola Maryland women’s lacrosse continued its march over, through and around Patriot League competition on Saturday at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Senior midfielder Jillian Wilson led the way with five goals as top-seeded Loyola outgunned No. 3 seed Navy, 15-8, in the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament. Graduate student attacker Livy Rosenzweig scored a goal and was the primary playmaker with five assists for the Greyhounds, who raced to a 5-1 lead after one quarter and never looked back.
Graduate student midfielder Sam Fiedler totaled three goals and two assists for Loyola (18-1), which claimed its sixth Patriot League championship to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Greyhounds, whose lone loss came to fifth-ranked Syracuse, are hoping to earn a top-eight seed and thereby host first- and second-round games next weekend.
“We’ve done all that we can this season. We played a tough strength of schedule and beat some tough teams,” Loyola coach Jen Adams said. “Now we leave it up to the selection committee. Just playing in the postseason is all that counts. It doesn’t matter where we go or who we play, we’re just excited to be there.”
Freshman attacker Georgia Latch contributed three goals and an assist for Loyola, which has won 66 straight regular-season contests against conference competition. The Greyhounds have reached the Patriot League Tournament final all eight years they’ve been a member.
Senior defender Katie Detwiler did an outstanding job covering Navy leading scorer Reagan Roelofs, whose first goal did not come until 2:12 remaining in the first half. Adams had high praise for the entire defense, which is also led by Shay Clevenger and anchored by goalkeeper Kaitlyn Larsson (nine saves).
“Our defenders have been the unsung heroes all season. Offense tends to get a lot of accolades, but our defense has been so stellar all season,” Adams said. “Everyone does their job on individual matchups, but we do such a good job of working together. We have such a strong defensive identity.”
Afterward, Loyola players donned their championship T-shirts and hats while celebrating wildly on their home field. Adams was doing a television interview when she was doused with bucket of ice water.
“It feels great because this is our ultimate goal. It’s so special and so exciting and I could not think of a better group of girls to share this with,” said Rosenzweig, who was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
Senior midfielder Kasey Dietzel scored two goals and assisted another to lead Navy (15-5), which was seeking its seventh Patriot League Tournament title. The Mids have reached the championship game 11 times and are 6-5, with four of those losses coming to the Greyhounds.
“I’m excited about the consistency with which we played today. We came out of the gates strong and were able to sustain that throughout,” Adams said. “This is a veteran squad that knows what is on the line. Our players were very focused for the full 60 minutes.
Graduate student midfielder Ellie Kluegel scored twice and Rosenzweig dished off two assists during a 6-0 run that gave the Greyhounds a 7-1 lead at the 12:37 mark of the second quarter. The Midshipmen rarely had possession and committed turnovers on several of the few occasions they did.
“I think it was really important to get a big early lead like we did. It kind of showed who was in control,” Rosenzweig said.
Rosenzweig had a goal and assist as Loyola outscored Navy 4-1 to start the third quarter. The Greyhounds held a 12-4 advantage when the Mids finally came to life.
Roelofs scored off an assist from Dietzel, while junior attacker Charlotte Ryan netted an unassisted tally to close the third quarter. Deitzel then made a nice move to score unassisted and suddenly it was 12-7 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
“I was definitely proud of our tenacity. It’s tough going down 7-1 but we really showed heart and toughness to keep fighting hard until the end,” said Roelofs, who finished with two goals.
Navy still trailed by five with 6:20 remaining but Loyola did a superb job of salting away the remaining time. Consecutive goals by Fielder and Sydni Black put the game away.
“Certainly, Loyola has defined women’s lacrosse in our conference. They are just a real tough team to beat, especially at home,” Navy coach Cindy Timchal said. “Just a lot of players with amazing stick skills and finishing abilities.”
Testament to the talent on its roster is the fact Loyola swept the Patriot League postseason awards. Rosenzweig was Attacker of the Year, Wilson was Midfielder of the Year, Detwiler was Defender of the Year and Larsson was Goalkeeper of the Year. Latch earned the Rookie of the Year honor, while Adams was named Coach of the Year.
The Greyhounds are one of the most veteran teams in the Division I ranks, loaded with graduate students and fifth-year seniors. Meanwhile, Navy has watched its seniors graduate and go on to serve during this COVID era when the NCAA has granted extra years of eligibility across the board.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to have Reagan and all the other seniors coming back next year. It’s transformational because of the value they bring to the program with their experience and dedication,” Timchal said. “You see the quality of play you get when you have that level of experience on the field.”
Loyola will be making its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance. Meanwhile, Navy is hoping for an at-large berth when the NCAA reveals the tournament field Sunday at 9 p.m.
Navy (15-5) 1-2-3-2 — 8
Loyola (18-1) 5-4-3-3 — 15
GOALS: N – Dietzel 3, Ryan 2, Roelofs 2, Eby. L – Wilson 5, Fiedler 3, Latch 3, Kluegel 2, Rosenzweig, Black. ASSISTS: N – Dietzel. L – Rosenzweig 5, Fielder 2, Latch. SHOTS: N – 30. L – 30. SAVES: N – Torres 8. L – Larsson 9. DRAWS: N – 12. L – 14. GROUND BALLS: N – 17. L – 11. TURNOVERS: N – 11. L – 12.