Maryland vs. Loyola: Three things to watch

Factors include Maryland's production from the midfield, Loyola's snipers in Eric Lusby and Mike Sawyer and the Terps' Drew Snider vs. the Greyhounds' Lusby

May 28, 2012|By Edward Lee

Maryland has dominated its in-state rival, winning 19 of 20 contests since 1940. The Terps and Loyola last met on May 23, 1998 when Maryland, a No. 5 seed at the time, upset the No. 1 seed Greyhounds, 19-8, in an NCAA tournament semifinal. The Terps (12-5) are seeking their third national championship, but their first since 1975. They’ve lost in six consecutive finals appearances, including last year when they dropped a 9-7 decision to Virginia. Loyola, top-seeded again, is looking for the program’s first NCAA crown and is making its second finals appearance after losing to Syracuse, 21-9, in 1990. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome of this NCAA tournament final at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Monday afternoon.

1) Maryland’s production from the midfield. Two of the Terps’ three starting attackmen in senior Joe Cummings and junior Owen Blye lead the offense in points with 49 and 40, respectively. But it was the midfield that powered Maryland’s 16-10 demolition of No. 3 seed Duke in Saturday’s semifinal. The starting trio of senior Drew Snider, junior John Haus and redshirt sophomore Mike Chanenchuk combined for six goals and one assist, and junior Kevin Cooper and freshman Kevin Forster totaled three goals and five assists from the second line. That grouping caught the attention of Loyola coach Charley Toomey. “Maryland’s middies are just so athletic, and if you miss a slide, they’re going to beat you,” he said. “They’re athletic, they’re going to roll back to their strengths, but they also can score with their weak hands.”

2) Loyola’s snipers in Eric Lusby and Mike Sawyer. Lusby, a fifth-year senior, has compiled 13 goals and five assists in three tournament games, and Sawyer, a junior who has registered just one goal and one assist since scoring five times against Canisius in the first round, is still a dangerous presence on the wing. But Terps coach John Tillman warned that shifting too much of the spotlight onto that duo can expose a defense to their equally-dangerous teammates. “We have to be sensitive because we have so much respect for Michael and for Lusby, but we can’t focus everything on them,” he said. “Because watching them, they’re good enough to know if you’re going to focus on them, the other guys will get you – whether it’s [junior midfielder Davis] Butts, [sophomore attackman Justin] Ward or whoever. Again, we’ll try to defend the knowns as best we can, give up the shots we want to give up because I know [sophomore goalkeeper] Niko [Amato] will take care of business if we give them a chance.”

3) Maryland’s Drew Snider vs. Loyola’s Lusby. As mentioned above, Lusby has posted 18 points in three tournament games. He would need seven more points to tie the tournament record of 25 shared by Cornell’s Eamon McEneaney in 1977 and Tim Goldstein in 1987. The Terps have their own torrid scorer in Snider, a senior midfielder who has amassed a hat trick in each of the team’s three tournament contests and 10 goals overall. The guess here is that Maryland will try to contain Lusby by assigning freshman defenseman Goran Murray to shadow him, while Loyola will ask junior long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff to limit Snider’s results.

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