Loyola Maryland came into Saturday’s game averaging nearly 13 goals during its last 84 games, but the Greyhound were pushed around and physically handled in a 12-7 loss to Army at the Ridley Athletic Complex.
The Black Knights (5-2) were allowing an average of 9.3 goals before the game, but defenders Jack Weigand, Kyle Beyer and Marcus Hudgins were superb throughout, especially in the middle of the contest when No. 13 Loyola (5-4) was held scoreless for 24 minutes and seven seconds.
By the time the Greyhounds broke the scoring drought on a goal from attackman Aidan Olmstead with 10:32 left in the fourth period, No. 11 Army had built an 11-5 lead and the outcome was merely a formality.
Olmstead, Loyola’s top scorer this season with 16 goals and 19 assists, had only one goal and an assist and the Greyhounds second leading scorer, attackman Kevin Lindley (25 goals, three assists), finished with one goal.
The Black Knights have a lot of bulk on defense. Weigand and Beyer are both 6-feet-2 and 220 pounds. Hudgins is the runt of the group at 6-1 and 205. He was the best defender on the field and combined. He combined with Army’s second midfield (four goals) and goalie Wyatt Schupler (16 saves) as the Black Knights turned in their most complete and dominating game.
Attackman Aidan Byrnes led Army with four goals and fellow attackman Nickolas Edinger had three goals and one assist. Midfielder James Evan paced the Greyhounds with two goals.
“I would say it was one of the most complete wins of the season,” said Army coach Joe Alberici. “I would say Marcus is the best on-ball defender I ever coached and we have a lot of confidence in him. He caused a lot of turnovers and doesn’t need a lot of support.
“That’s who we are,” said Alberici of his physical defense, “guys who are really dedicated to the weight room. They put great effort in and today it showed. We have guys who are 6-2 and long, and they cover a lot of ground. I would say it is comforting [having them] if you are looking for the right words.”
Hudgins said the Black Knights were trying to rebound from last week’s 13-12 loss to Lehigh.
“Last week we didn’t play our best, so we went back to work on fundamentals,” Hudgins said. “Our goal is to hold them under seven, so we met our goal. I knew after the first quarter they would try to go to other options and try to attack our short sticks. I think it’s good that we can press out.”
With Lindley and Olmstead in virtual handcuffs, Loyola’s major weakness this season becomes exposed. In years past when the Greyhounds were serious national contenders, they always had midfielders who could help control the pace of the game. That’s not the case in 2021. Loyola doesn’t have offensive midfielders who can break down a defense out near the restraining box, or defensive middies who can contain top offensive middies. Army set the tone in the first period by taking a 5-2 lead at the end of the quarter and four of those goals were scored from midfielders, two by Danny Kielbasa.
Loyola’s two goals were the result of extra-man situations, and after Army’s third goal Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey replaced starting goalie Sam Shafer with Freeman Whitaker, who had only played 10 minutes this season and a total of 14.5 minutes in three years at the school.
Whitaker finished with six saves.
“We’ve got to work out some things in the goal,” Toomey said. “We had two injuries in the goal this week, so it creates some challenges for us.”
Toomey just doesn’t have goalie issues. He lost two starters early in the game with leg injuries, including starting attackman Joe Kamish in the second quarter and starting defenseman Kyle LeBlanc in the first. LeBlanc’s injury caused major confusion because the Greyhounds were hesitant about sliding to the adjacent pass and that led to a couple of goals right outside the crease area in the first quarter.
“I got to tip my hat to Army, they played hard,” Toomey said. “They canned their shots and we didn’t early and that was very disappointing. But it is incumbent for us to stay together, keep working and stay focused. What that looks like at end of year will be better than we looked today. We’ve got our challenges.”