While junior Joe Fletcher has emerged as Loyola’s shutdown defenseman and seniors Scott Ratliff and Josh Hawkins have headlined one of the more prolific Rope units in Division I, Reid Acton has stood in the background. But that’s not how coach Charley Toomey feels about the senior defenseman.
Acton, a three-year starter, is a security blanket for the No. 5 Greyhounds (11-3), who will meet No. 8 Ohio State (10-3) in a semifinal of the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament at Hobart on Thursday night. Toomey said Acton’ experience and leadership provide his teammates and coaches with a certain level of comfort.
“When you’ve got one guy that is on the inside – and that’s what Reid is, he tends to be the off-ball defender which puts him in the middle of the field – we really rely on Reid for being the communicator and really getting the defense as a whole get organized,” Toomey said Wednesday. “So to have a guy down there that is able to understand the roles of the short sticks and the long poles and having Fletch and [sophomore defenseman Pat] Frazier develop below goal-line, Reid’s been the glue. It’s been fun to watch him develop. As a senior and certainly as a leader, I’ve seen him take that role and really run with it this year. We feel like we’ve got a lot of leaders on the field, but Reid just happens to be in the middle of everything and really the director of our defense on game days.”
Acton, a Toronto native, has been especially helpful against Canadian attackmen on opposing offenses due to his familiarity with their style of play. In three meetings against Acton last season, Denver’s Mark Matthews – who hails from Oshawa, Ontario – totaled five goals on 16 shots and just one assist, and Loyola won all three games en route to the university’s first Division I national championship.
In the Greyhounds’ 9-4 victory over the Buckeyes on March 30, Acton limited senior attackman Logan Schuss – a native of Ladner, British Columbia and the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 – to one goal on five shots. Acton will be asked again to shadow Schuss Thursday night.
“Reid and Logan know each other as Canadians,” Toomey said. “They’ve played together and practiced together in the past. So I think there’s a good rivalry between the two. Reid knows that he’s going to see Logan’s best, but I don’t think it’s a situation where you can ask one guy to really shut Logan down. It’s a total team effort because I think it’d be tough to ask Reid to go mano a mano for the whole game because they do so many things to get Logan his shots – whether it’s off of picks or pops away from the ball. Reid understands the slickness of Canadian-style lacrosse that Logan is going to bring. I think the last time that we played, he played him really well. So he’s used to that type of matchup with Matthews last year and anytime we have that type of matchup – like last week with [Johns Hopkins junior attackman Brandon] Benn, another Canadian – Reid understands the type of player he’s going to be playing against.”