It might have taken two games, but the Loyola men's lacrosse team of 2013 looked like the squad of 2012.
In a tuneup for Saturday's highly anticipated rematch with No. 3 Maryland, the top-ranked and defending national champion Greyhounds got at least two points each from five of their six starters on offense en route to a 14-9 victory over host Towson before an announced 1,094 at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Wednesday night.
Senior attackman Mike Sawyer and junior attackman Justin Ward (Old Mill) led the team with four points each — with Sawyer scoring four goals and Ward recording one goal and three assists. Senior midfielder Chris Layne collected one goal and two assists, senior midfielder Sean O'Sullivan scored twice and sophomore attackman Nikko Pontrello posted a goal and an assist.
Senior midfielder Davis Butts (one goal) was the only starter not to record at least two points, but junior midfielder Kevin Ryan filled the void with two goals and one assist as Loyola (2-0) might have to put to rest any consternation stemming from Saturday's 9-8 win at Delaware.
"It's good," Sawyer said of the multitude of scorers on offense. "Obviously, we have a lot of talent, and we like to share the ball. So it's good to see everyone contributing and sharing the wealth. It just opens up everyone else when people are scoring on the left side, and it's hard to pole our midfield because all three of them can take you. So it's definitely good to see everyone putting up points."
The Greyhounds improved in almost every major category. They took 10 more shots against the Tigers (compared with shooting two fewer times than the Blue Hens), scooped up 15 more ground balls (they lost by two in that department against Delaware), and winning 16 of 28 faceoffs compared with just seven of 21 last Saturday.
Defensively, Loyola was solid, but junior defenseman Joe Fletcher wasn't terribly pleased that Towson strung together three-goal runs in the second and fourth quarters.
"Defensively, we did OK," said Fletcher, who caused two turnovers and collected four ground balls. "We showed some really good spots and we showed some bad spots. One thing we really need to work on is just not giving up runs. If they get a goal, stop them right there and not let them get the three or four[-goal] run that they did today."
The Greyhounds appeared to have the game in hand shortly after halftime, during which they held an 8-4 lead. Goals by senior midfielder Patrick Fanshaw (Calvert Hall) and Sawyer in the third quarter bumped their advantage to six, their largest of the game.
But after trading goals, the Tigers scored three consecutive times and four of the next five. Junior midfielder Andrew Hodgson scored the first two goals, and junior attackman Thomas DeNapoli got the next two, with his final tally making the scorer 12-9 with 4:22 left in the contest.
But Towson senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage (St. Mary's Ryken) was assessed a 30-second penalty for delay of game with 1:35 remaining, and with the Tigers electing to use sophomore goalie Tyler White as an extra defender to pressure the ball, Ward bounced a shot into an empty net with 1:15 left. Layne scored another empty-netter 31 seconds later to cement the win.
DeNapoli paced Towson with four goals, and sophomore midfielder Greg Cuccinello added two goals and one assist, but it wasn't enough to prevent the team from falling to 0-3 for the second time in four years.
"I really wish we'd figure out how not to hand over games to teams," coach Shawn Nadelen said. "Once we settled down our execution, we were right there in that game, and I was proud of the way our guys fought back in that second half. But in the third quarter, we made way too many mental mistakes, specifically on the defensive end. We're our own worst enemy, I feel like, right now. We're going to work to correct that and be better there."