Rutgers coach Tom Hayes thought the only way his Scarle Knights could upset top-ranked Loyola was to get an early lead.
He never got the chance to find out.
The No. 1 Greyhounds opened the lacrosse season yesterday with a nearly perfect first quarter, building a 7-1 lead in less than 14 minutes, on the way to a 17-9 victory before 2,547 at Curley Field.
"Loyola had a nice game plan, and they executed it well," Hayes said. "They did a great job of neutralizing the faceoff area, and that allowed them to control the tempo. When they get a lead, they're very tough to come back against."
The Greyhounds, outshooting Rutgers, 12-4, in the first quarter, opened a 3-0 lead in less than three minutes on goals by Sean Smith, Gary Miller and Chris Colbeck. And after Rutgers got its first score past Loyola goalie Tim Dunnigan (10 saves), the Greyhounds ran off the next five goals to take an 8-1 lead early in the second quarter.
"We did a good job offensively. We recognized the defense and attacked it well," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said.
After Rutgers cut the Loyola lead to 10-5 early in the third quarter, the Loyola defense improved and sophomore Kevin Beach topped off his best performance as a Greyhound.
Senior defenseman Scott Oslislo went the length of the field with an intercepted pass and scored to stop any Rutgers momentum, and then Beach, who finished with five goals and two assists, fired in three goals and fed for another in a seven-minute span to put Loyola up, 15-5, after three quarters.
"The defense stiffened on the rides and gave us some breaks, and we kept going," Beach said.
Overall, Cottle was satisfied with the play of his new first-midfield unit, consisting of the senior Smith and Essex transfers Fred Haas (two goals) and Miller (three goals, one assist). "They really were men out there with strength plays and power shooting," Cottle said. "That midfield really played well."
The job of filling the void left by All-America midfielder Brian Kroneberger appeared well set. "That unit might be even stronger than last season's first midfield," Beach said. "They have three real scoring threats."
If there was anything that displeased Cottle, it was the easy goals that Rutgers did manage to get. "We've got to play better defense next week," he said, referring to Loyola's next game, at No. 3 Virginia next Saturday.
Rutgers 1 3 1 4 -- 9
Loyola 7 3 5 2 -- 17
Goals: R--Locker 3, Mone 2, Luciano, Cunningham, Watson, Badger; L--K.Beach 5, Miller 3, Colbeck 2, Haas 2, Sloper, Cantabene, Curry, Oslislo, Smith. Assists: R--Luciano 2, Cunningham; L--K.Beach 2, Blanding 2, G.Beach 2, Colbeck, Haas, Cantabene, Burnham, Nagle. Saves: R--Schmunk 14; L--Dunnigan 10., A: 2,547.