PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- When you hear the words Loyola College lacrosse, pictures of attackmen Jim Blanding spinning and Kevin Beach bumping and grinding for goals come to mind. As the two walked out of Brown Stadium yesterday, a few young admirers said they were going to ask for autographs.
But after No. 1 Loyola defeated No. 8 Brown, 17-12, yesterday in the Fleet Invitational, Greyhounds coach Dave Cottle hardly mentioned Beach and Blanding. He talked more about Gary Miller, Derek Radebaugh, Gene Ubriaco, Dan Burnam, Bob Curry and others.
A bunch of no-name midfielders. Nine of them combined for 11 goals, including four in the last seven minutes, as the Greyhounds (6-0) held off the Bruins (3-1).
As for Beach and Blanding, they finished with three and six points, respectively, but took most of the day off.
"I can't say enough about our midfielders," said Cottle, whose team will meet No. 3 Syracuse (4-1) today at 3 p.m. in the tournament championship game. Syracuse defeated Duke (2-3),
15-12, in the second game yesterday.
"They controlled the game and won a lot of ground balls," Cottle said. "We run eight or nine of them and try to win the game by committee. They did a great job of finishing for us today."
No one finished better than Miller. He scored the game's first goal on a fast break 4:05 into the game, then scored 1:09 into the third period. That started a five-goal barrage by the Greyhounds. Miller then scored with 5:41 left in the game to put Loyola ahead 14-11.
"We play consistently," said Miller. "We haven't learned how to lose yet, either this spring or in the fall. A lot of teams gear themselves to stopping our attack, so our midfield just has to play our game. Down the stretch, I definitely knew something had to be done and I went for it."
So did the other Loyola midfielders. Brown had pulled within 12-11 on Sam Jackson's goal with 10:09 left in the game. But then Burnam blew by Brown midfielder Kris Bayer outside the crease for a goal with 6:18 remaining.
Thirty-seven seconds later, Miller scored. Then Radebaugh made a run from 20 yards out, falling but scoring a 10-foot goal with 3:37 remaining. Ubriaco scored nearly two minutes later, and Blanding finished the surge with an underhanded shot from the left of the crease with 1:51 remaining, as Loyola pulled ahead 17-11.
End of threat.
But the Greyhounds had sweated.
During the past two years, Brown trailed twice in games, only to rally and win by 10-7 in 1990 and by 14-13 last season. In the latter game, Loyola had an 11-7 lead after three quarters.
"This is a big, big win, as big as beating North Carolina this season," said Blanding. "Over the years, they've had our number. Plus, it's a big difference playing on turf, like we do, then playing on a wet, grassy field, like today. We're used to high bounces. Today, when you shot low, the ball just died."
Blanding also should have given Brown defenders Carter Trudel and Harvey Smith credit for hounding him and Beach all over the field. Loyola controlled the action in the first period, outshooting Brown 14-7, but led only 3-1.
Loyola gave up two extra-man goals in the first half, and had to rally for three goals in the last six minutes of the first half. The goals, by Blanding, Curry and Kevin Lutz, gave Loyola a 6-3 lead.
Loyola seemed to gain control of the game, scoring the first five goals of the third period, but then came Brown. Sparked by attackmen Oliver Marti and Neil Munro, the Bruins pulled within 11-10 with 1:31 elapsed in the fourth period on a goal by Marti. Brown got within one again, 12-11, on Jackson's goal before Loyola began another spurt.
"They are a team that makes a lot of runs," said Cottle. "I told our kids to be patient and we would regain the tempo."
Loyola will have to be patient and get another outstanding effort from its midfield today against Syracuse. It will be Loyola's half-field offense against the Orangemen's transition game.
Also, the Greyhounds will have to get Beach and Blanding back into their offense full time.
"We're as good as they play because we have an emphasis on those two players in our offense," said Cottle, whose team lost to the Orangemen, 21-9, in the 1990 NCAA Division I title game. "As for Syracuse, we love to play them and they love to play us. When I took over this program, I wanted us to be competitive on a national level. Syracuse is a team that has reached the pinnacle a number of times, and we'll find out what we need to get and stay there."