Loyola Maryland’s iron grip on Patriot League women’s lacrosse has not wavered in seven years. That reign would not come to an end on Thursday.
Despite trailing after a quarter for the first time since Feb. 19, the Greyhounds monopolized the latter three quarters, completely silencing Navy to secure the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, 13-5.
The Midshipmen went scoreless for 50 minutes the moment the Greyhounds remembered who they were and what they do.
“We let Navy get us out of our team defense and team style in the first quarter,” said Loyola midfielder Elli Kluegel, who led her squad with five goals. “A lot of the focus of our timeouts in the second were getting back to our game, controlling the tempo. From there, it flowed to the offensive end.”
With the win, Loyola (16-1, 9-0) will host the Patriot League Tournament after completing its eighth undefeated conference regular season since joining the Patriot League in 2014 — 66-0 all-time.
The ever-lengthening legacy means more to Loyola coach Jen Adams this year. The negative that was the 2020 canceled season became a positive this spring as fifth-year athletes used their extra season to provide a wealth of experience.
“It means a lot to have a normal season, and with all the work the girls are putting in, I’m really proud of them,” Adams said. “I mean, every time you win a game, it’s special and every time we win a regular-season title is special. We just want to keep this season going for as long as we possibly can.”
The Greyhounds are 78-3 in the Patriot League counting tournaments, all losses coming at Navy’s hands. Loyola is hopeful history will not repeat itself should the two meet again. Navy (13-4, 7-2) will be the second or third seed in the playoffs, depending on the outcome of Lafayette and Army on Saturday.
“We take a lot of pride in being in the Patriot League and controlling Loyola lacrosse,” Kluegel said. “Regardless of the competition we face, we still hold ourselves to a pretty high standard and we always want to reach that level of play. That’s driven us this season to keep getting those wins.”
By surprise and by tempered calculation, Navy was doing something early no one’s really been able to do on Loyola – pile on goals.
The Mids took the first two draws, capitalizing on both. Loyola grabbed its first possession on its first caused turnover, sweeping downfield to score. Sophomore attack Sydni Black jabbed the tying goal behind Mids keeper Jo Torres.
Back-and-forth the two volleyed goals, Navy staying one step ahead. But for the Mids, facing one of the most dangerous teams in America, a slight edge wasn’t good enough.
Behind the offensive leadership of Reagan Roelofs (four goals), Navy led Loyola 5-3 after one. The draw circle played a big role. Roelofs and senior Kasey Dietzel dominated Loyola at center field, 7-2.
But between quarters and a couple timeouts, Loyola keeper Kaitlyn Larsson (11 saves) locked on to her opponents. The 5-foot-8 netminder swallowed up everything Navy threw at her.
“To start, we were a little shaky, but as we played, we played better one-on-one D,” Larsson said.
Twice, Adams gathered her team. They reminded one another of their faith in one another, considered adjustments and said, “We’ve got to get back to Loyola lacrosse.”
The Greyhounds gradually shifted momentum. Led by senior Jillian Wilson at the wings plucking 50-50 balls, Loyola started stringing draws together and through that, enough goals to tie the game at 5. The defensive flushed the Mids to the outside, forcing weaker shots. Soon, one of the most lethal attacks in America, Livy Rosenzweig, knocked down the go-ahead goal.
“That was the fundamental difference for us,” Adams said. “Not letting the game get away from us, but at the same time, focusing on one play at a time, one draw, one save, one stop defensively — and one goal.”
As goals and draws increased for Loyola, so did Navy fouls. The Greyhounds’ next score came just after two Mids trotted off the field with penalties pinned to them. Turnovers remained fairly even on both sides but soured Navy’s play deeper.
Loyola’s two third-quarter goals were born of Mid fouls. Man-up, Rosenzweig fed Kluegel for her second just before Wilson pegged another on free position.
“As fouls become more costly as the game gets deeper and the stretch became bigger, it’s something we wanted to capitalize on,” Adams said, “and just maintain that control offensively.”
A 9-5 third-quarter lead wouldn’t quite bury Navy; another six unanswered goals would.
Momentum firmly in hand, Loyola deployed all of its strengths to put the Mids away – Larsson collected a couple more saves, teammates flashed tricky passes across the crease for goals and Greyhounds sticks carried won draws to fruition. When they did surrender the draw twice more, Loyola pressured Navy into turnovers.
Navy coach Cindy Timchal believed her offense had the ability to generate itself, but just didn’t.
“If we shot even 40%, we would’ve had 10 goals,” Timchal said, “and that loosens us up a little bit. But we’re learning every game, and this was our toughest opponent of the season. [Loyola] demonstrated how tough they can be at home.”
Loyola – 3-4-2-4 – 13
Navy – 5-0-0-0 – 5
Goals: L: Elli Kluegel, 5; Livy Rosenzweig 2; Sam Fielder 2; Georgia Latch 1; Jillian Wilson 1; Sydni Black 1; Catie Corolla 1. N: Reagan Roelofs 4; Leelee Denton 1.
Assists: L: Rosenzweig 4; Chase Boyle 2; Fiedler 1; N – Kasey Dietzel 2; Lindsay Beardmore 1; Charlotte Ryan 1
Shots: L – 31; N – 23
Saves: L – Larsson 11; N – Torres 8.
Draws: L – 9; N – 13.
Turnovers: L – 12; N – 15.