Because of their academic and practice schedules, Pat Spencer and Livy Rosenzweig do not get to spend much time picking each other’s brains. But Spencer, the highly decorated maestro for the Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse team, and Rosenzweig, a budding superstar for the Greyhounds women, have seen enough to develop a mutual respect for each other’s skills.
“She is a terrific player,” Spencer said. “You can tell that she sees the field very well and has a great understanding of when to be aggressive to take it herself.”
“It’s a huge honor to be compared to Pat Spencer,” Rosenzweig said. “He’s the best college men’s player there is right now. So that’s a huge honor to me. I think we do have to hold ourselves in the same way in terms of being calm and composed, and he’s very crafty in his play. So I try to model that style.”
Game recognizes game. Spencer, a senior attackman, and Rosenzweig, a sophomore attacker, will take center stage as the undisputed catalysts on offense in a rare doubleheader Saturday. Rosenzweig and No. 7 Loyola will open their season at Homewood Field against Johns Hopkins (1-0) at 11 a.m. before Spencer and the Grehounds (1-0) tangle with the No. 17 Blue Jays (0-1) at 2 p.m.
The players’ paths to Loyola were somewhat similar. Like Spencer, a late bloomer at Boys’ Latin, Rosenzweig was initially overlooked by some of the sport’s bigger programs. Coach Jen Adams said she and assistant coach Dana Dobbie considered themselves “fortunate” to discover Rosenzweig working on her stickwork on the sideline during a club lacrosse tournament.
In her college debut, a 14-11 loss to Johns Hopkins, Rosenzweig had a goal and two assists. Adams said that outing was a watershed moment for the New York native.
“Livy was very unhappy with how she played that game and her contributions, and she knew that she could be doing so much more,” Adams recalled. “I remember walking away from that game thinking, ‘Look out for the rest of the season,’ because it’s unusual for someone to have that kind of internal motivation and is confident enough as a freshman in her very first NCAA game to say, ‘I didn’t shape up. That wasn’t good enough. I’ll show up better tomorrow.’ For me, that was when I was like, ‘With that kind of mentality combined with her physical athleticism and skills, that’s going to pan out for us.’ ”
Adams looks prophetic now. Rosenzweig finished her freshman year as the first player in Loyola lacrosse history, men’s and women’s, to eclipse the 100-point mark in a single season (55 goals, 47 assists). She was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year and was the only freshman named first-team All-Patriot League.
“Coming in, I was just hoping that I was going to play and make an impact,” she said. “I wasn’t sure as to what it was really going to be, and I just tried to take it one day at a time and play my best every day to try to prove myself as a freshman. Coming in, it’s hard to just come into a new team that has already had things established, but my coaches did a great job of giving me confidence and preparing me the best they could, and it ended up pretty good.”
If Rosenzweig struck like lightning on the national scene, Spencer has been a steady deluge. The Davidsonville native is a two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist who was honored as Division I’s top attackman last spring and is the first player in Patriot League history to earn Offensive Player of the Year honors in each of his first three seasons. Already the conference’s career leader in assists (168) and points (273), he ranks 10th in Division I history in assists.
Spencer had five goals and two assists in the Greyhounds’ 17-9 thumping of then-No. 6 Virginia on Saturday and received Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors. He said he’s been more direct with teammates on the field this year.
“Maybe in the past, I kept to myself more than I’ve put out there,” he said. “So that’s something I’ve focused on this year, trying to be more assertive with the guys and getting guys in the right spots. I feel like when we’re organized on offense, we’re pretty tough to beat. So if I can be the vocal leader on the field getting the guys organized, then I’ll do it.”
Coach Charley Toomey pointed to halftime Saturday for an example of Spencer’s maturity. After offensive coordinator Marc Van Arsdale addressed his players, Spencer followed up by taking a whiteboard and diagramming plays with teammates.
“That’s who we have right now, and that’s pretty special,” Toomey said. “He’s embracing every moment of his senior year.”
Limiting Rosenzweig and Spencer remains a priority for opposing defenses. Rosenzweig had as many points as turnovers (three) in last year’s meeting with Johns Hopkins, but Blue Jays coach Janine Tucker said Rosenzweig is a much different player.
“Our goal last year was to stay in her hands, to not let her feed, to not let her turn the corner as best as possible, and I think we were fairly successful in doing that,” Tucker said. “But we’ve watched her grow over last year and into this year, and she’s a different player. She’s more dynamic, she’s very multidimensional, and we will have our hands full.”
Spencer, meanwhile, has three goals and 10 assists over three games against the Blue Jays. He could see a lot of senior defenseman Patrick Foley on Saturday, but coach Dave Pietramala said limiting Spencer will take an effort from the entire defense.
“He presents quite a challenge for any defense,” Pietramala said. “If all you do is slide all over the place every time he’s got it, then he’s going to pick you apart. If all you do is just leave your defender on an island and say, ‘You go cover him,’ he’s more than capable of running by you and scoring goals. You’ve got to pick your poison with him and pick it well.”
Personal success, however, pales in comparison to the goal of capturing a national championship. For Spencer, the urgency to bring Loyola its second title is growing.
“You only get to go for four years at this thing,” he said. “So you want to have something to hang your hat on at the end of the day. Right now, we’ve been fortunate to win three Patriot League titles, and one more would obviously be great. But the ultimate end goal is to be the best team in all of college lacrosse. That’s kind of what we’re looking for at the end of the year.”