Net Positive

NCAA Semifinals appearance adds energy and passion to men's lacrosse program

By Nick Alexopulos, '03  |  Photos by Larry French; Rita Buettner; Nick Alexopulos, '03; Craig Chase; courtesy of Loyola Athletics

The stands of Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia were full of Loyola green and Greyhounds pride as the men’s lacrosse team faced off against the University of North Carolina in the NCAA Semifinals on Saturday, May 28. Loyola fans came from far and near to celebrate the team and cheer the team on in the NCAA Championships.

After a first half that saw North Carolina take a 14-5 lead, Greyhounds Head Coach Charley Toomey, ’90, made a simple request of the men’s lacrosse team. “I asked them to show me their heart,” he told members of the press at the post-game press conference. “And I thought they did.”

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The team rallied in the second half, but still fell short, losing 18-13.

That heart, that passion, and a tremendous amount of skill took the men’s lacrosse team on a 10-game winning streak that started in March and continued into the NCAA Championships. In the program’s fourth trip to the semifinals and second trip in the past five seasons, Loyola men’s lacrosse is putting a stamp on this era and reinforcing Loyola’s reputation as a force on the field.

The team finished the 2016 season with an exceptional 14 wins—the third highest number in the program’s history—a Patriot League Championship, and outstanding contributions from its players, including first-year student-athlete Pat Spencer.

Spencer finished the season with 89 points (tying the program’s single-season record for points), 52 assists (second in school single-season history), and 37 goals. He finished second in the NCAA in both points per game (4.94) and assists per game (2.89), and he was the first player in Patriot League history to outright win the conference’s Offensive Player and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year. Spencer was named both to the Unanimous All-Patriot League First Team and the USILA All-America Second Team.

As Loyola Greyhounds fans stood to recognize the team for a strong season, many may have also been thinking ahead to next year when all but three starters will return. With the success of this season, next year’s team will have an excellent foundation to build on.

“This was an exciting season to watch our team develop as it went along,” Toomey said. “The energy and passion for our program and university around reaching championship weekend was terrific. I truly believe that the future is very bright for Loyola and our team.”

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Clockwise from top left: Fans cheer for an ESPN live shot at the Loyola tailgate in Philadelphia. The team takes the field at the NCAA Semifinals in Philadelphia. A victorious team hoists the trophy after winning the Patriot League Championship over Army in Annapolis, Md. The Greyhounds defeated Duke University in the first round of the NCAA Championships at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex before traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to face off against the Towson Tigers in the Quarterfinals—and defeat Towson on the way to the Semifinals.

 

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