Loyola's Jamie Hanford has a huge appetite, but nothing quite measures up to the bite he took out of the Johns Hopkins offense two weeks ago.
The freshman defenseman from Darien, Conn., held Hopkins attackman Terry Riordan to one goal in a 12-11 Hopkins victory. That's Riordan, as in All-American. Riordan, as in the Blue-Jays' all-time leading goal scorer with 44 this season.
"The coaches thought I did a good job the first time against him, and I'm anxious to play him a second," said Hanford. "I'm sure he'll play harder the next time because he wants to get revenge."
The next time is today (1 p.m.) at Homewood Field, when No. 1 Hopkins (12-0) meets No. 8 Loyola (11-3) in the NCAA Division I quarterfinals. And Hanford is right: Riordan looks forward to the rematch.
"He's a strong, tough kid who doesn't play like a freshman," said Riordan. "He's got a lot of confidence, and, like most good defensemen, has a lot of grit."
That's not to be confused with grits.
Hanford, 6 feet 2, 205 pounds, has taken a lot of ribbing from teammates after he reported to spring workouts weighing nearly 227 pounds. Teammate Brendan Fry says he is the undisputed doughnut king of the Loyola campus.
"Rumor, strictly rumor," said Hanford, laughing. "I thought I would be at the prep school instead of Loyola during the spring, so I was out of shape. It was such a short notice before I got here."
Within weeks, Hanford earned a starting position. A little later, he became the Greyhounds' top faceoff specialist despite using a long stick. Hanford was surprised to start as a freshman. Loyola coach Dave Cottle expected it.
Hanford was an all-state fullback who rushed for more than 800 yards as a senior at Darien High. He was also an all-county defenseman in hockey.
"It's just his nature to be competitive," said Cottle. "He has a true love for the game. His whole attitude is to develop and become the best player he can be."
Hanford said: "If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be starting in an NCAA playoff game for Loyola and playing against the best player in the country, I wouldn't have believed them."
Hanford has the ideal size and style to match up with Riordan. Riordan is 6-5 and weighs 220 pounds. Hanford is only three inches shorter, 15 pounds lighter, but may be just as strong, and able to run through the picks Hopkins sets for Riordan. Riordan has trouble with players who bump and check, and stay tight on his gloves.
That's vintage Hanford, who plays left-handers better than anyone on Loyola's team. Riordan is a lefty.
"Lefties give you more of a chance to check them, get more pushes in," said Hanford. "Terry is big, strong and so powerful. I try to stick on him as close as possible and stop him from getting the ball."
The tactics worked last time and frustrated Riordan. He spent more time jawing with Hanford than getting involved in the offense.
"I only talk trash when people talk it to me, and he was talking a lot of it," said Hanford. "I think he was frustrated because he kept asking for the ball. I would say the language between us got a little unpleasant."
"A lot of people think I do a lot of talking, but I usually don't," said Riordan. "I did a lot of talking last time, and it took me out of my game. I don't expect to be so talkative tomorrow [today]."
Riordan sounds confident. He points out that Loyola goalie Tim McGeeney had a school-record 28 saves in that game and that Loyola's zone defense forced him out further from the crease and his shooting areas than expected.
He says Hopkins has made some adjustments.
"If it wasn't for people like Brian Piccola, Dave Marr or Casey Gordon stepping up, we might have lost the game, and I would have been really disappointed if that happened," said Riordan. "The bottom line is that we won, though, and we've worked on some things that might help against that zone."
"Ever since Maryland had some success against me, people are face-guarding me more," said Riordan. "There are other things I can do to help the team. There are groundballs to win, picks to set or passes to make. But I know the team counts on me to score, and when I do, it makes winning a whole lot easier."
Hanford said: "I've spent a lot of time watching film on Riordan and doing other extra work. I'm excited about playing him again."