As prolific as the Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team has been on offense, the defense appears to have found its footing.
Sophomore Jacob Stover made a career-high-tying 16 saves, and the No. 11 Greyhounds held No. 13 Towson to a season-low in scoring an 11-7 win before an announced 1,366 at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Tigers (2-1) entered the game averaging 12 goals, but were rendered toothless by a Loyola defense that has surrendered 12 goals in two games after giving up 30 goals in a pair of losses to begin the season.
"What I saw tonight was guys that were clicking on all cylinders," Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. "When somebody maybe got beat to the inside, there was a slide and a second slide. I thought we stayed on some doubles and forced some turnovers."
The Greyhounds (2-2) were especially adept at locking up Towson's vaunted attack that had combined for 64.9 percent (24-for-37) of the team's points. Sophomore Jon Mazza was shut out by senior defenseman Jack Carrigan, senior Joe Seider (Hereford) took a career-best 15 shots but came away with only two assists, and senior Ryan Drenner scored twice in the third quarter after Loyola had built a 7-2 advantage.
Stover, who tied his career high in stops set in an NCAA tournament first-round win in May, made six saves in the opening quarter.
"I'm only as good as my defense in front of me," the Hunt Valley resident and McDonogh graduate said. "The guys gave me opportunities to see shots outside of 10 to 12 yards. The shots that I saw in the game were good takes. I was just able to get my stick on them. But the opportunities we gave them were what we wanted to see."
After sophomore attackman Pat Spencer converted a centering pass from sophomore attackman Alex McGovern to give the Greyhounds a 9-4 lead with 3:28 left in the third quarter, the Tigers made things interesting by embarking on a 3-0 run.
Sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Zach Goodrich scored his third goal in two games with 2:11 left in the third quarter, and Seider fed senior midfielder Tyler Konen on back-to-back goals in the fourth as Towson trailed 9-7.
But senior attackman Jordan Germershausen cemented the victory for Loyola by re-directing passes from Spencer with 1:57 remaining and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Jared Mintzlaff 57 seconds later.
"I thought I had a couple slip-ups here and there, but I'm a good crease guy," said Germershausen, a Reisterstown resident and Calvert Hall graduate who finished with a career high-tying four goals in his first start of the season for injured senior attackman Zack Sirico. "I like to work off of Pat. So he does most of the running around. I work off my guy, he draws a slide, and he does the hard stuff. I just sit around and do my job."
Spencer, a Davidsonville resident and Boys' Latin graduate, led all scorers with five points on one goal and four assists, and senior midfielder Romar Dennis and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Brian Begley each scored twice.
Towson was led by a trio of players in Drenner, Konen, and senior midfielder Mike Lynch (Boys' Latin), each of whom scored two goals. And sophomore Alex Woodall (St. Mary's won 13 of 22 faceoffs and picked up three ground balls.
The Tigers matched the Greyhounds' five goals in the second half. But Drenner lamented the Tigers' lethargic start on offense.
"That was totally 100 percent self-inflicted," the Westminster graduate said. "In the first half, we were just trying to do way too much. In the second half, we kind of settled down, started to run our offense and be smarter with the ball. It worked out for us, but I think we just got started too late."
Towson opened the scoring when Lynch raced down the right alley and nailed the top left corner of the cage just 61 seconds into game.
But Loyola scored the next four goals over a span of 10:56, powered by Spencer, who assisted goals by Dennis, Germershausen, and junior midfielder Jay Drapeau.
Lynch scored his second goal of the game off a pass from redshirt senior midfielder Brian Bolewicki (Calvert Hall) with 5:57 left in the second quarter. But the Greyhounds closed out the first half with goals from Germershausen and Begley, who set a career high.
The Greyhounds improved to 32-28 against Towson and have won 10 of the past 11 meetings. The Tigers have lost their past five games at home, where they have not beaten Loyola since Feb. 25, 2006, when that squad emerged with an 11-10 victory.