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Loyola clinches Patriot League's automatic bid in men's lacrosse by routing Army West Point, 13-4

The latest installment of the Patriot League tournament was a reminder of how dangerous the Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team can be when it is in a groove.

The top-seeded Greyhounds' 13-4 victory over No. 2 seed Army West Point to capture the tournament championship Sunday crystallized that sentiment. An announced 1,549 watched Loyola (10-5), which is ranked 16th in the most recent Inside Lacrosse media poll, claim its third tournament crown in four years and become the first program to cement a berth in the NCAA Division I tournament, which begins in a couple weeks.

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In the Patriot League playoffs, the Greyhounds scored a combined 26 goals against No. 5 seed Holy Cross and the Black Knights. And the defense surrendered a total of seven goals in those two wins.

"The guys in my opinion – and I say it all the time – got what they deserved because they were mentally and physically prepared to play this game today," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "I couldn't be more proud of this group. They're playing their best lacrosse right now, and that's exciting."

The Greyhounds had plenty of heroes to choose from Sunday, especially the first midfield. Senior Brian Sherlock had three goals and one assist, junior Jay Drapeau added three goals, and senior Romar Dennis produced two goals and one assist. Drapeau has been especially potent against Army this spring, compiling seven goals and two assists in two meetings.

And sophomore attackman Pat Spencer had one goal and three assists to finish with 55 assists, eclipsing former attackman Justin Ward's previous single-season record of 53 assists set in 2014.

"It's very cool, but honestly I had no idea I was even going for it today," said Spencer, a Davidsonville resident and Boys' Latin graduate who has amassed 82 points to join Gary Hanley as the only players in program history to reach 80 points in two different campaigns. "I really wasn't focused on it at all. It's just really the game plan coming in. I think we do a great job of that as a team. Just not worrying about the individual play, just focusing on what we can do to win the game, and it really worked out today for us."

Loyola also had some defensive standouts as the unit caused 11 of the Black Knights' 17 turnovers. Sophomore goalkeeper Jacob Stover made 11 saves for a total of 23 in the conference tournament en route to being named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

The Black Knights' starting attack of senior Cole Johnson, sophomore Nate Jones, and junior Conor Glancy failed to get a goal or an assist. Johnson especially was hampered by Greyhounds junior defenseman Ryder Harkins, who collected two ground balls and two caused turnovers.

"They made it very, very easy for me in the goal with opportunities that they would just put the ball on the ground and cause transition," said Stover, a Hunt Valley resident and McDonogh graduate. "Offensive-wise, the guys just put the ball in the net. It was great to see the guys really stepping out and playing aggressive and causing turnovers and being ready to stay on the double when there was a pick coming through. When I got scored on, they picked me right back up. We just fed off of each other."

After both sides exchanged three goals each in the first quarter, Loyola broke open the contest with five straight goals in the second period. Drapeau scored twice, and midfielder Romar Dennis contributed one goal and one assist to fuel the run.

When senior midfielder Gunnar Miller converted a pass from junior midfielder David Symmes with 12:03 left in the third quarter, that ended a drought of 18:01 for Army and drew the team to within 8-4. But the Greyhounds closed the game with five straight goals to clinch the victory.

Symmes paced the Black Knights with two goals and one assist, and Miller chipped in one goal and two assists. But Army's troubles were illustrated by the 14 shots it took in the last three quarters matching the 14 turnovers it committed over the same span.

"They played a real complete game," coach Joe Alberici said. "Offensively, just outstanding from a lot of different places. Defensively, just forced us into some things that really aren't our team. But that's a credit to them. They were terrific."

Notes: In addition to Stover, Spencer, Sherlock and senior defenseman Jack Carrigan were named to the all-tournament team. Army was represented by Miller, sophomore defenseman Johnny Surdick, and senior faceoff specialist Dan Grabher. Senior goalkeeper Christian Carson-Bannister and senior attackman Cal Dearth of Boston University and senior attackman Sean Kirkpatrick and senior defenseman Jack McGovern of Holy Cross also made the team. … Loyola improved to 6-1 in the Patriot League tournament with its only loss occurring in 2015. … The Black Knights fell in the conference's title game for the third year in a row.

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