The first time Loyola coach Dave Cottle got a glimpse of Sean Quinn, the young player had college defenseman written all over him.
That was five years ago. Quinn was playing in the Empire State Games that brought together the best young lacrosse players in New York. He was about to enter his senior year at Canandaigua Academy.
"You could tell all three West defensemen would be Division I scholarship players," Cottle said. "I saw him later playing for Canandaigua. He was the captain, the team's glue on defense, the leader."
Cottle's eyes did not deceive him. Quinn has been a Loyola starter since he was a freshman. Now, as a senior captain, he draws the opponent's best attackman.
Who will that be when No. 2 Loyola plays No. 4 Towson State tonight (7:30) at Minnegan Stadium?
Cottle and Quinn suspect it will be John Blatchley, even though the Tigers star attackman has a rib injury.
"I figure John will play," Cottle said.
"I'd put money on it," Quinn said. "He's tough. I've played against him three or four times. I'd like him to play -- their best against our best."
Quinn has been getting a steady dose of the other team's best. Last Saturday in the Fleet Invitational in Providence, R.I., Quinn restricted Darren Lowe, Brown's all-time scoring leader, to a goal and three assists.
Blatchley is like Lowe, primarily a feeder.
"Against someone like Lowe you stay in his gloves," Quinn said. "That is, you harass by poke checking his hands, so that when he tries to pass, the ball goes astray."
Just as in high school, Quinn is the glue that binds Loyola's defense. Loyola's other two defensemen, Stan Ross and Jason Foley, are freshmen, as is Tim McGeeney, the goalie.
"Sean's been around the block," Cottle said. "He's the guy the freshmen look up to, and he takes the pressure off them.
"That's what we've come to expect of Sean. He's so consistent, as a student [3.2 grade-point average in business], a person and a player. He's ready to practice every day and play every game."
A number of things drew Quinn to Loyola, including its reputation as a Jesuit institution and its strong business curriculum. There was also the advice of Brian Kroneberger. When he visited Loyola, Quinn met Kroneberger, then one of the team's best players.
"If you want to win the national championship," Kroneberger told him, "come to Loyola."
Quinn heeded the words, and although the Greyhounds have yet to win the championship, they have been in the NCAA tournament three times, reaching the final in 1990. Their record since Quinn's arrival is 36-9.