For at least one half, Loyola men's lacrosse coach Charley Toomey got a good, long look at what his team's defense could be, and he liked what he saw.
Buoyed by the return of senior short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins, the No. 15 Greyhounds locked down host Georgetown in a 13-8 win before an announced 808 at Multi-Sport Field on Wednesday night.
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Harbin Field/Multisport Facility, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007, USA
The Hoyas (3-4) had scored 16 times in an eight-goal thumping of Providence on Saturday, but they got just one goal in the first half as Loyola (6-2) enjoyed a 7-1 advantage at intermission to pick up a sixth consecutive win in the series.
Georgetown did score seven goals in the second half, but that only slightly dulled Toomey's enthusiasm over the defense's potential.
"I've continued to say it, that I think our best lacrosse is ahead of us," he said. "Obviously, Josh makes us a different team. I don't know if it was the lights, the shoes or Josh, but we looked a little faster tonight, and I was really proud of us defensively in that first half. I thought we dug in, played with a ton of energy, and then we obviously have to go back and address some things late in the second half."
Hawkins sat out the team's first seven contests while serving a suspension for violating an unspecified team rule. In his first game back, he recorded a goal and an assist, collected four ground balls and forced three turnovers.
"We're just playing with a little bit more speed," said Hawkins, who ignited the Greyhounds' transition game during their run to the national title last season. "I'm feeding off of them, and they're feeding off of me. They know they have another lock-down D-middie in there that's going to play on ball and off-ball. We just want to get back to where we were last year and the speed of our defense."
Hawkins' energy appeared to rub off on some of his defensive teammates. Junior short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Laconi posted a goal, an assist and three caused turnovers, and senior long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff scored once, scooped up four ground balls and forced two turnovers.
"Having Josh back, he's running, and me and Rat are just running down the field as fast as possible," Laconi said. "We almost challenge each other to see who's going to score first and who's going to get the next one and the next one."
On the offensive side, junior attackman Justin Ward (Old Mill) led all scorers with five points on one goal and four assists, and freshman attackman Zach Herreweyers scored four goals in his second consecutive start for 2012 Tewaaraton Award finalist Mike Sawyer, who is dealing with an unspecified injury.
"The guys have done a great job getting me into my space and finding me the ball," Herreweyers said. "So I can't complain about that. It's been good."
Georgetown opened the scoring 1:53 into the first quarter when sophomore midfielder Joseph Bucci ran down the right side of the box and passed to Charles McCormick up top. The sophomore midfielder had plenty of time and room to step down and fire a shot past junior goalkeeper Jack Runkel (game-high nine saves).
But after that, it was all Greyhounds. Seven players scored in the first half, with Ratliff tying the score at 1 with a high-to-high blast from up top with 10:07 left in the first period. Laconi scored with 3:46 left in the half, and Hawkins ended the run with a goal with 5.7 seconds on the clock.
The Hoyas did outscore Loyola 7-6 in the second half, but Georgetown whiffed on four extra-man opportunities during the game and committed 20 turnovers to the Greyhounds' 10.
Sophomore attackman Reilly O'Connor paced the Hoyas with two goals and one assist, but it was a far cry from the five goals and four assists he racked up against Providence.
Senior attackman Travis Comeau, who registered a season-high four goals and two assists against the Friars in place of senior Brian Casey (left leg), was limited to a goal.