After starting the season 2-5, the Loyola women's lacrosse team has begun what it hopes is a big turnaround with three straight wins, including Wednesday night's 13-7 victory over a UMBC team off to its best start in 27 years.
The No. 17 Greyhounds, who defeated Big East Conference foes Louisville and Cincinnati over the weekend, dominated the second-half draws against the Retrievers and thwarted any attempt at a comeback by maintaining possession for the final 10:41 of the game at UMBC Stadium.
Loyola boosted its lead to 9-4 on Taryn VanThof's shovel shot with 19:55 left — a goal that capped a 7-2 Greyhounds run that began when Joanna Dalton (St. Mary's) broke a 2-2 tie with 17:57 left in the first half. Dalton, VanThof and Annie Thomas (John Carroll) finished with three goals each.
Winning four of the first five draws in the second half helped the Greyhounds (5-5) build that lead, but the Retrievers (7-3) took two of the next four draws and rallied to within 10-7 when Abby Wilson (Fallston) fed Jordan Lyons for her third goal of the game with 10:41 left.
Loyola coach Jen Adams then called a timeout and reiterated the importance of winning the draw.
"We've been talking about this a lot over the course of this opening set," Adams said. "We're at 10 games now, and every game we've come away and said it's not necessarily that we're not winning draw controls, it's that we're not winning draw controls when they count the most. When I called that timeout, it was, 'This is the most important draw control of the whole game if we want to really make sure we focus on momentum.' "
Dalton won the next draw, and the Retrievers never again had possession.
While the Greyhounds looked to eat up as much of the clock as possible, they also looked for opportunities to go to goal.
"Patience is the biggest thing," Greyhounds All-America midfielder Marlee Paton said, "and knowing that we wanted to be smart with the ball, drive and draw the double [team] and then just take it on, because we knew our teammates were going to be there to back us up. Just quick ball movement and supporting each other all over the 8 [-meter arc]."
The Greyhounds, who finished with a 9-3 advantage on the draw in the second half, worked the ball for more than six minutes before Kara Burke (Dulaney) fed Thomas for an 11-7 lead. Dalton won the next draw, too, and Sydney Thomas made it 12-7 on a feed from Hannah Schmitt with 2:37 left.
Until Wednesday night, the Retrievers had been a strong second-half team. They rallied from down 5-1 early in the second half to beat Boston University in overtime Saturday. Against the Greyhounds, however, they managed just five second-half shots.
"You're only a second-half team when you win the draw," UMBC co-coach Tony Giro said, "and that's what we've been doing, but we didn't get that done tonight."
The Retrievers, who were playing without six injured starters, stayed with the Greyhounds early. Brittany Marquess (Broadneck) fed Lyons for the first UMBC goal just 17 seconds into the game. That ended a Greyhounds run of 22 unanswered goals over the previous two games and 67:52 of shutout lacrosse.
After that, things slowed down for the Retrievers, who had plenty of possession early but struggled to convert on their set offense, managing just six shots in the first half.
The Greyhounds took the lead on goals from VanThof and Dalton. Lyons tied it on a feed from Wilson with 18:16 left in the half, but Loyola answered with three straight goals that started a 5-1 run carrying over into the second half.
"I think the difference from the first half to the second half was more our confidence," Lyons said. "Our confidence got shot in the second half. I'm not sure of the reason. We needed to work on hustle. We needed to get in the flow that we had in the beginning of the game, and it just wasn't going our way."