After last Saturday’s 8-4 victory over No. 13 Johns Hopkins, No. 5 Loyola was thought to be a lock for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if the reigning national champion did not repeat as Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament champions this week.
Few expected the Greyhounds to fall to No. 8 Ohio State in a conference tournament semifinal, but that is what happened as the Buckeyes pulled off an 18-11 upset at Hobart in Geneva, N.Y., Thursday night. Now Loyola's tournament profile is in question, and it is an unsettling situation for the players and coach Charley Toomey as they await to hear their fate Sunday night when the NCAA selection committee unveils the 16-team field.
“Anytime you put it in the committee’s hands, you’re going to be sitting on pins and needles, and certainly that’s where we deserve to be right now,” Toomey said Friday morning as he traveled back to Baltimore. “What I would say is I look at our resume and versus other resumes and I feel like we warrant being in the conversation. ... If it becomes a numbers game, I feel very good about our RPI and I feel very good about our strength of schedule and I feel like we warrant being in the conversation. Obviously, some things need to go our way. We need to rely on a couple games that are going to be played over the next 48 hours, and if they hold true, then we have a shot.”
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The Greyhounds fell to 11-4 after a disastrous fourth quarter Thursday night. Ohio State won 7 of 9 faceoffs and erupted for eight goals. The Buckeyes picked up 16 ground balls to Loyola’s three and took 15 of the period’s 20 shots.
“It felt like we just struggled to get stops -- even in the first, second and third quarters,” Toomey recalled. “What happened was we just stopped scoring in the fourth. And then they jumped on the fourth quarter with energy and we probably dipped our heads a little bit and they jumped on us and turned what was a close game into an out-of-hand game.”
That fourth quarter was uncharacteristic of the Greyhounds, who were last shut out in the final period of regulation on May 26 in a 7-5 win against Notre Dame in last year’s NCAA tournament semifinal. And it was the first time that the team under Toomey had been outscored 8-0 in a quarter.
Toomey would prefer if that fourth period is not the lasting memory of this year’s squad.
“As I said to them last night, I hope it doesn’t end this way,” he said. “I’ve felt like this group of kids deserves better. We didn’t play a great game. It’s time to man up and bull your neck, and hopefully, we have an opportunity to go out and practice again Monday. But again, that’s not in our hands at this moment. I’m proud of what these kids have accomplished and I hope there’s more lacrosse to be played for Loyola.”