BALTIMORE – Loyola University Maryland men’s lacrosse had to sit through a two-hour, 14-minute storm delay before opening faceoff on Saturday night, but the Greyhounds built a 4-2 lead after the first quarter that they extended to a 10-5 halftime head before downing the University of Virginia, 14-12, in the NCAA Championships First Round at Ridley Athletic Complex.
As the teams were taking the field for the opening faceoff, lightning struck within the radius which forces teams to leave the field. Shortly thereafter, heave rain accompanied the storm, and the teams waited in their respective locker rooms before finally starting the contest at 9:29 p.m.
With the win, Loyola advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second time in three years. The Greyhounds will face Yale University on Saturday, May 12, at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium. The game time will be announced Sunday.
Loyola (13-3 overall) scored the game’s opening goal as Jay Drapeau caught an Aidan Olmstead feed and buried a shot at 10:20, but Virginia (12-6) came back with two goals inside of a minute. Ian Laviano and Regan Quinn both scored unassisted at 9:32 and 8:55, giving the Cavaliers a one-goal lead midway through the first quarter.
Alex McGovern scored for Loyola, taking a short-stick defender behind the cage before getting topside and rolling back to the goal for a tally with the 30-second timer on at 6:22. That started a stretch in which the Greyhounds scored three goals in less than a minute.
Mike Orefice won the ensuing faceoff for Loyola going toward the Greyhounds’ defensive end. He evaded two Virginia defenders, ran a one-man clear to the offensive end and shot high-to-high, scoring 12 seconds after McGover to give Loyola a 3-2 lead. Brian Begley then came away with the ground ball off an Orefice faceoff win, and he sent a pass to Ryan McNulty. He ran into the box and threw to Pat Spencer on the left side. Spencer dodged past a defender and shot high-to-low to the opposite post, scoring with 5:37 to go in the opening quarter.
Spencer finished the contest with two goals and three assists for a game-high five points. In the process, he broke two Loyola single-season records.
He became the first player in school history to score 90 or more points in a season, eclipsing the record of 89 set in 1981 by Gary Hanley that he tied in 2016. Spencer also broke his own single-season assist record of 55 set last season. He now has 33 goals and 58 assists for 91 points in 2018.
Loyola made it four-straight goals early in the second quarter when Spencer threw to Kevin Lindley for his first of four goals just 1:13 into the frame. Virginia the run with a Matt Moore goal at 12:04, but Loyola bounced back to score in transition, sparking another big run.
Jacob Stover made a save on a close-in shot by the Cavaliers’ Michael Kraus, and Ryan McNulty picked up the ground ball for the Greyhounds. He ran the clear and shot a 17-yard bouncer past Virginia goalkeeper Alex Rode with 11:05 to go in the second.
Orefice struck again, winning the faceoff going forward before running to the goal. This time, he was checked from behind before he shot, but the ball squirted into the goal, and he was credited with his ninth goal of the season, fifth in two games versus the Cavaliers.
Spencer scored a highlight-reel goal two minutes later, taking an Olmstead pass as he was hit with a hard check. Spencer bounced back, kept his balance and got his hands free to rip an 8-yard look that made it 8-3 Loyola.
P.J. Brown tacked on another goal at 6:57, restarting quickly from behind the cage and beating a short-stick topside to score on the crease. Fifty-two ticks of the clock later, Olmstead fed Lindley for his second of the quarter, and the Greyhounds were in front by seven, 10-7.
Virginia rallied for two goals before halftime, the first by Moore at 2:21, and the second on a Mike D’Amario man-up tally with less than 12 seconds remaining before the break.
Loyola came out of the break with a Lindley goal off a Spencer assist at 11:09, stretching the advantage back to six before Michael Kraus scored his only goal of the night for Virginia at 7:15.
Spencer initiated another goal for the Greyhounds, re-dodging on the right side before feathering a pass to Drapeau running down the middle for a one-timer at 4:25.
Minutes later, Stover backed up a wide Virginia shot to gain possession for Loyola. Ryder Harkins cleared the ball end-to-end, and he threw to Lindley for his fourth of the game, registering his first career point with an assist in the process.
Lindley’s fourth pushed the lead to 13-6, an advantage Loyola would need in the fourth quarter.
Dox Aitken scored twice in the first 3:10 of the fourth quarter, and Laviano added a goal at the end of a Jared Conners transition run with 9:42 left in regulation, cutting the lead to 13-9.
McGovern dodged from behind with less than nine minutes left, freed himself from traffic and sent a skip pass to John Duffy for a 15-yard step down on the high, right side. Duffy’s goal at 8:43 made it a five-goal advantage for the Greyhounds.
Aitekn, however, scored twice more, first with 2:00 to play, and the second time with 28.8 on the clock. Conners then added a goal with 14.6 left before Loyola ran out the clock for the victory.
Stover finished the game with seven saves for Loyola as the Greyhounds had a 40-34 advantage in total shots. Virginia did have a 34-31 lead in ground balls, but the Greyhounds won 15-of-29 faceoffs.