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No. 11 Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse can’t keep up with No. 3 Virginia in 15-12 loss

As far as members of the No. 11 Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse team are concerned, the final score of Saturday evening’s 15-12 loss to No. 3 Virginia did not accurately reflect how quickly the outcome might have changed in their favor.

The Greyhounds scored three of the first four goals to trail by just one midway through the fourth quarter before the Cavaliers scored the final two goals to put the game out of reach. Unlike an 8-7 overtime win at No. 16 Richmond on Feb. 13 in which Loyola scored the game’s final three goals, the team could not get over the hump in the last frame Saturday, and that was the most disappointing part.

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“I’m proud of their effort and I told them that. The end result needs to be a win though,” Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. “We’ve got to learn from this and grow and I thought we took a big step from Richmond this week, and I’m proud of that effort. But this one stings because I thought our guys were emotionally invested, I thought they prepared to win a game, and we came out and played with great energy.”

Facing its largest deficit of the game, 12-9, at the end of the third quarter, Loyola (1-1) got two goals within the first 49 seconds of the final period. Senior attackman Kevin Lindley collected a loose ball off the opening faceoff and beat freshman goalkeeper Bobby Gavin on a one-on-one just eight seconds into the period.

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That goal was Lindley’s fourth of the game and gave him 123 for his career, helping him overtake Gewas Schindler (120 goals from 1996-99) for fifth all-time in program history.

Forty-one seconds later, senior attackman Aidan Olmstead (one goal and two assists) spotted sophomore attackman Evan James (three goals and one assist) behind the Virginia defense in transition and hit him with a long pass, which James converted.

But the Cavaliers (3-0) regained a two-goal cushion at 13-11 thanks to a little luck. Redshirt freshman midfielder Connor Shellenberger’s shot from the left alley did not seem to have much velocity, but it deflected off a stick of a Greyhounds defenseman and popped into the top right corner of the net with 11:18 left in the quarter.

Graduate student midfielder Peter Swindell cut the deficit in half with a laser from the right point with 7:38 left. But Virginia got goals from senior attackman Matt Moore and sophomore attackman Payton Cormier in a 47-second span to extend its advantage to 15-12 with 4:34 remaining, and the Cavaliers killed off a one-minute slashing penalty on senior defenseman Kyle Kology to thwart any hope of a Loyola comeback in the final minutes.

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“We had the momentum,” Lindley said. “If we [rode] that momentum train, we could have easily won. Credit to UVA. They took it right back from us.”

Added Toomey, whose team was outscored 11-5 in the second and third quarters: “Even though they made those runs, we were in the fourth quarter and we were in the game. So you can say that they were up on us 11-5 in two quarters, but we had an opportunity to win that game in the fourth quarter. To their credit, they made a few more plays than us and pulled away.”

The Greyhounds could not match the firepower of the Cavaliers, the 2019 NCAA Division I champion. Senior attackman Matt Moore scored a game-high five goals, redshirt freshman midfielder Connor Shellenberger racked up five points on two goals and three assists, and Cormier scored three times.

“I think it’s just the 1-v-1 matchups,” Loyola senior defenseman Matt Hughes said of the challenge in trying to contain Virginia’s offense. “They’ve got some really strong guys that can win their own matchups, and we’ve got to have our guys win their own matchups. All six of their guys on the field are really dangerous. We’ve just got to be able to contain that.”

Thanks to junior faceoff specialist Petey LaSalla (15 of 24 faceoffs, a game-best seven ground balls, and one goal), the Cavaliers won 17 of 31 faceoffs and took 50 shots to the Greyhounds’ 46. Toomey acknowledged the bar Virginia sets in daring opponents to keep pace.

“They put a lot of pressure on you,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of big, strong, athletic players. We had talked about trying to win some individual matchups below goal line, and I’ll be honest with you, my hat’s off. They made some really athletic plays that you just can’t slide to. A [Moore goal on a] jump shot getting up the field against [junior defenseman] Cam Wyers [in the fourth quarter], it’s just one of those things that you’ve got to tip your hat sometimes to a kid that makes a tough play, and they did that.”

Loyola converted only 1 of-4 extra-man opportunities, including one in the first quarter that appeared to end with a Lindley goal but was negated by a crease violation on a Cavaliers penalty and another that ended in a turnover. But Lindley declined to place any blame on the man-up offense.

“We also need to convert more on 6-v-6,” he said. “That’s the highest percentage of the game. Yeah, EMOs might have [contributed] us to win, but we’re not scoring as much as we need to on 6-v-6. So you can’t really scapegoat the EMOs.”

As pleased as he was with the Greyhounds’ resilience in keeping the score relatively close, Toomey did not take much solace in that.

“But we’re not going to pat ourselves on the back,” he said. “We took a loss at home, and we’re not happy about it. We’ve got to get better.”

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