Steve Layne has an all-encompassing memory. As much as the senior defenseman for the No. 7 Loyola men's lacrosse team remembers locking down opposing attackmen, he also can recall some of his less-than-delightful performances.
"There are games where I've gotten my fair share of licks in the past," Layne said. "I got lit up by [former Syracuse attackman] Mike Leveille and [former Duke attackman] Matt Danowski a couple years ago. Playing some of those real good guys when I was young prepared me for this."
Layne will add another file to his memory this Saturday when he will likely draw the assignment of shadowing senior attackman Craig Dowd of No. 9 Georgetown (7-3) at Loyola's Ridley Athletic Complex at noon.
The Greyhounds (7-2) have not been shy about asking Layne to contain some of the more potent scorers in Division I this season. He has limited Duke junior Zach Howell to one goal on five shots and Navy senior Tim Paul to one goal on three shots.
Yet, Layne's name is rarely mentioned in the discussion of the country's top defensemen. It's a slight that coach Charley Toomey is trying to rectify.
"Maybe people outside of our program do [overlook Layne], and at the end of the game, you might not recognize the contributions that Steve makes for us, but we certainly do," Toomey said. "He'll be in my office, watching film at 9:30 in the morning. That's the kind of guy that he is. His preparation off the field and his tenacity on it make him a special player for us."
As part of a defense that ranks second in the nation in goals surrendered per game (6.8), Layne knows that he still has much work to do for the team to cement a spot in the NCAA tournament. And if that means matching up with an opponent's best offensive threat, so be it.
"It's good pressure," Layne said. "I've been doing it for three years now, so I'm used to it now. I enjoy it. I've embraced the role. … I don't get intimidated by who I'm playing against. Basically, Coach just says, ‘He's the primary ball carrier. Go play him.' They rely on me to shut him down, and that's what I try to do."
En route to becoming the first Mount St. Mary's player in 11 years to register six assists in a single game, Brett Schmidt had other things on his mind – namely, securing a victory over Detroit Mercy.
"I never really realized it until after the game," the sophomore attackman said of the Mountaineers' 12-9 win last Saturday. "The game was close, so we just tried to keep it togther. I just kept going, playing as hard as I could."
Schmidt ranks second on the team in points (23) and is tied with twin brother Bryant for the lead in assists (13). Coach Tom Gravante said Brett Schmidt has provided another option for an offense that is averaging 11 goals per game.
"He's elevated the pace," Gravante said. "He's a very nice attackman with great food speed and separation."
In just 11 games this season, McDaniel sophomore attackman D.J. Rickels has registered 33 goals and eight assists, exceeding last year's totals of 23 goals and six assists.
Rickels, a Forest Hill native and Boys' Latin graduate who leads the Centennial Conference in goals per game (2.8) and points per game (3.7), said an offseason regimen that added 15 pounds of muscle and improved his footwork has been the foundation for his success.
"I had a good year last year, but I knew I had to step it up this year because we lost a lot of big midfielders," he said. "During the summer and fall, I worked out about six days a week. My strength literally developed, and I was doing sprint workouts and running a couple miles a day. All of that combined helped a lot in terms of making me one step quicker and being able to nudge a defender that much more. Putting on that muscle definitely helped me with my dodging ability and my shot velocity."