Loyola College's sixth-ranked lacrosse team was genuinely worried about its home game with No. 15 Rutgers yesterday.
"This is a big game for us," Greyhounds assistant coach Bill Dirrgl said nervously before the faceoff.
He could have relaxed.
Steadily improving Loyola won easily, 17-6, dominating every phase of the game. It was the 100th win for coach Dave Cottle in 12 years at Evergreen.
Rutgers (1-3) never has beaten Loyola (4-0) in five tries.
Mark O'Brien led Loyola scorers with four goals and Derek Radebaugh had three. Sean Heffernan had one goal and five assists.
From late in the second period until early in the fourth quarter, Loyola scored 10 straight goals to build a 17-4 lead.
"It's pretty hard to win when you give up 10 straight goals," said coach Tom Hayes, who's in his 20th season at Rutgers. "Loyola has an excellent team. They have too many better athletes on the midfield for us."
"I thought our kids really hustled," said Loyola's Cottle. "We're improving. We felt this was a game our defense could win for us. Dave Pietramala has done a great job coaching our defense this year."
Goalie Tim McGeeney only had to make nine saves behind a defense that shut out Rutgers in the third period.
Outstanding on defense for Loyola was sophomore Brendan Fry, who covered Rutgers All-America attackman Ryan O'Shea most of the day. O'Shea was held scoreless until getting the final goal of the game with 2:12 remaining.
"Loyola was a step above us today," said O'Shea. "Their defense was sliding well. Every time I tried to roll inside on Brendan Fry somebody slid and double-teamed me. Plus we didn't have the ball much."
"Fry has been doing a great job for us all year," said Cottle. "He didn't play a whole lot last year as a freshman, but he's developing into an outstanding player."
Loyola's offensive balance is evident from the fact that once again scoring was spread around. Ten players scored for the Greyhounds.
McGeeney, who came back from a shoulder injury just before the opening game two weeks ago, expressed the squad's general feeling about the fast start.
"We didn't know if we'd be 4-0," said McGeeney. "We didn't know if we could beat North Carolina last week. But our coaches prepared us well and now we're gaining a lot of confidence."
Loyola's next game comes Saturday against Brown at Providence. Loyola is 0-5 against Brown.