For the past four months there has been only one goal in the mind of Coach Charley Toomey and his players. On Monday, a 9-3 victory over the Maryland Terrapins made their hopes of their first NCAA men's lacrosse championship title a reality.
Hosted at Foxborough's Gillette Stadium, over 17,000 fans were in attendance to see a championship game which practically ended in a clinic being put on by Loyola attackman, Eric Lusby.
Lusby, who scored 54 goals this season, scored a game-high four goals, setting an NCAA record for the most goals in the NCAA tournament with 17.
The in-state matchup between the two stayed within one-goal margins for the first nine minutes and 20 seconds of the game after being tied at three. Junior Mike Sawyer scored Loyola's fourth goal, his 52nd of the season, at the 5:57 mark of the second quarter, which ignited six-goal run by the Greyhounds that extended all the way until the fourth quarter of play.
The non-stop offense of Loyola held possession the majority of the time and ripped a total of 17 shots on goal. Midfielder Chris Layne led the assist game, having assisted on three of the Greyhounds nine goals.
Loyola's only other visit to the finals came in 1990 when the Greyhounds were defeated by Syracuse. In addition to the record breaking performance by Lusby, the Greyhounds stamped their name in the record book by earning their first ever championship title.
Despite losing in the finals two years in a row, the Maryland Terrapins do have reason to keep their heads high. This is only year two for Coach John Tillman, and it is clear his system is proving to be successful. Tillman, who lost several star players last year, made the very most out of his young squad who went into the tournament unranked.
They may have come up short one year yet again, but Maryland has undoubtedly made it clear that they will remain contenders in the year to come. Also, it may be worth noting that the Terrapins should receive some serious recognition for having the best uniforms in the tournament (a personal bias that I cannot help but to force myself to include).
Loyola winning their first NCAA title not only means a lot for their school's own lacrosse program, it also has a ripple affect on the area's around it. Anyone with the slightest comprehension of the sport we call lacrosse knows that both D.C. and Baltimore are prime locations for upcoming talent. This being said, the simple fact that championships are being won in-state schools will continue to cycle this talent at both the collegiate and high schools levels.