On a day when the Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse program saluted its 12-member senior class, the one person who might’ve been most overjoyed by the moment was Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese.
That’s understandable after Cassese and the No. 15 Mountain Hawks absorbed a 15-9 drubbing by the No. 2 Greyhounds at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.
Loyola (8-2, 5-0 Patriot League) was paced by senior attackman Pat Spencer and senior goalkeeper Jacob Stover. Spencer (Boys’ Latin) totaled 11 points on five goals and six assists, and Stover (McDonogh) turned aside a game-high 15 shots.
Since 2016 — the seniors’ first season — the Greyhounds are 5-0 against Lehigh and have outscored their conference rival, 71-42.
“I do think the best way to stop him is graduation,” Cassese said of Spencer, who has 14 goals and 20 assists in those five meetings against the Mountain Hawks. “So we’re looking forward to that. It seems to be so close, but it’s so far away.
“But at the same time, I’m a competitor and we’re a team full of competitors. We look forward to playing against the best. And not only is he the best, but this is the best team in the Patriot League and one of the best in the country, and it’s also one of the best coaching staffs around. So from a competitive nature, I enjoy the challenge.”
With his double-digit outings against the Mountain Hawks and Colgate (two goals and eight assists) on March 30, Spencer became the first player in school history to score at least 10 points in back-to-back games. He also became the first player in NCAA Division I history to reach double digits in points in two consecutive games since Albany attackman Lyle Thompson on March 14 and 17, 2015.
Spencer increased his nation-leading points-per-game average to 7.7.
“I’m not shooting for it,” he said. “I’m just taking what the defense gives me. So today, they gave me plenty of opportunities, and I tried to take advantage of them. It doesn’t mean anything.”
Loyola took any mystery out of the proceedings by scoring the game’s first nine goals before five minutes elapsed in the second quarter. The run was fueled by Spencer, who had three goals and two assists against an injury-plagued Lehigh defense. The Mountain Hawks lost starting freshman defenseman Michael Hagenberger to a right knee injury he suffered while hawking Spencer in the first quarter.
Any hope that the Mountain Hawks had of making a comeback was snuffed out by Stover, who made at least 10 saves in his 11th straight game — a streak that dates to last season’s loss to eventual national champion Yale in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.
Greyhounds freshman defenseman Cam Wyers limited senior attackman Lucas Spence, who entered the game leading Lehigh with 34 points, to two assists.
Coach Charley Toomey mildly disagreed with Cassese’s sentiment that Saturday’s display was the Greyhounds’ best this spring.
“I certainly hope not. I hope there’s more out there,” he said. “But I will say this: I think that we’re getting healthy at the right time both offensively and defensively. So our practices have been better. They’ve been more competitive with guys that we’re not sitting out as much, and I think it’s starting to show.”
While Spencer said celebrating senior day had not hit him yet, Stover said his feelings caught up to him.
“For me in the last 10 to 15 seconds of the game, I thought about it, and I got a little emotional,” he said. “But at the same time, I know we’ve got a game [against Georgetown] on Tuesday. We knew we had to come out here and play, and it was really important. Coach had been harping the whole entire week about [how] it was senior day. He wanted to honor us and get those guys out on the field that have been here for four years and have been grinding it out. So it was emotional, but it was a good win, and we’re looking forward to Tuesday now.”
Senior attackman Tristan Rai led Lehigh with two goals and one assist. Freshman attackman Tommy Schelling added three assists. Cassese said he is looking forward to the team playing Robert Morris on Wednesday instead of dwelling on the setback until next weekend.
“That’s a confidence buster,” he said. “They rolled us today. We managed to get it within six, but it wasn’t that close. I think working to get our confidence back will be key.”
Lehigh 0 3 3 3 — 9
Loyola Maryland 6 4 3 2 — 15