PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Syracuse University scored off ground balls and fastbreaks. And it scored off controlled situations and long bombs.
Combined with a defense that held No. 1 Loyola to its lowest goal production in nearly three years, third-ranked Syracuse routed the Greyhounds, 13-5, in the championship game of the Fleet Invitational lacrosse tournament at Brown University yesterday.
The whipping was so complete that Loyola coach Dave Cottle could only joke about the rain and snow that poured Saturday night.
Where to begin in this loss?
Syracuse's midfield, missing three vital players because of injuries, still controlled the tempo of the game, as Tom Gilmartin and John Barr each had three goals and Roy Colsey had two. Loyola's leading scorers, Kevin Beach and Jim Blanding, combined for one goal and one assist, and at one time Loyola went nearly 24 minutes without a goal. Syracuse led 9-3 at the end of three quarters, and if Greyhounds goalie Tim McGeeney had not tied a school record with 27 saves, the outcome would have been much worse.
"When we warmed up, you could see the intensity wasn't there," said Cottle. "I had to pull them off for a meeting as quickly as possible. We didn't make a good decision the entire game, and the worst decision was showing up. Where was the snow?"
Actually, the storm may come Saturday night at 7:30. That's when Loyola (6-1) puts a bid for a top-four seeding in the playoffs on the line at No. 4 Towson State (4-0).
"Today, we made a lot of mistakes that we have been harping on all year," said Cottle. "It's just that when you win, you don't always focus on them. Now, we know exactly what we have to do. This team has never lost, not in the fall, scrimmages or this season. It's very important to win as a team. Now, it's important to see if we can lose and bounce back as a team. I think we're going to be all right. Next week is going to be a real test."
The biggest adjustment will have to come in Loyola's attack. Blanding and Beach, smothered by Syracuse defenders Brian Tully, Ric Beardsley and John Winship, were virtual no-shows for the second straight day of the tournament.
That left most of the scoring burden on Loyola's midfield, which could not keep pace with the Orangemen, who held a 65-50 advantage in ground balls.
Loyola's shot selection was poor, and at times the Greyhounds had a tough time playing pass and catch. Loyola also was penalized seven times for eight minutes, including three times for offsides.
"Definitely, we were a little nervous," said Sean Quinn, Loyola's senior defender, who held Syracuse's splendid attackman, Tom Marechek, to one goal. "They are three-time defending champions, but we have to learn we have nothing to be afraid of and that we can play with these guys. The regular season is a time of learning, but once we get to the playoffs, we'll know that there is no tomorrow."
Syracuse (5-1) had no problems with intensity. The Orangemen remembered their last two trips to Baltimore, a 15-14 loss to
Johns Hopkins March 20 and a 14-13 loss to Loyola in the Greyhounds' fall tournament.
Syracuse also was spurred on by Hopkins' 15-9 loss to Virginia on Saturday. The Orangemen knew the winner yesterday would become the No. 1 team in the country.
"The clock somehow ran out of time the last time we played Loyola, and I think that stuck in the players' minds for four or five months," said Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr. "The intensity was incredible. The fall is for fun, but the spring is business.
"If McGeeney, their magnificent freshman goalie, had not had a good game, it would have been more of a blowout. The Hopkins loss yesterday, I would say, had a little to do with our performance. We have beaten the No. 1 team, and now we've beaten the No. 2. I don't know where we'll end up now."