Loyola, Johns Hopkins prepare for latest men's lacrosse showdown

Top-ranked Greyhounds to face No. 6 Blue Jays on Saturday at Ridley Athletic Complex

  • Loyola coach Charley Toomey is pictured before his team played Boston college on April 12.
Loyola coach Charley Toomey is pictured before his team played… (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore…)
April 28, 2014|Mike Preston

Coaches love to play head games.

When Loyola coach Charley Toomey was asked about his upcoming game with Johns Hopkins, minutes after his team had beaten Lehigh on Sunday, he mumbled something about having to watch game film.

Now, that's funny.

No. 1 Loyola and No. 6 Hopkins are within walking distance of each other, and they recruit the same players. Yet, Toomey said he has to look at film before he can go into detail about the Blue Jays.

There is nothing these two coaches and programs don't know about each other. During the season, they keep one eye on other teams and reserve the other one for each other.

For Loyola (14-1) to win Saturday's game, which is scheduled for noon at Ridley Athletic Complex, the Greyhounds know they have to control the Blue Jays attack. In settled situations, Hopkins (10-3) might be the best six-on-six team in the country, with attackmen Wells Stanwick (17 goals, 38 assists), Ryan Brown (35, 13) and Brandon Benn (33, 5).

Greyhounds goalie Jack Runkel, who has a .631 save percentage, knows the Hopkins attack group well.

"I know Wells well enough to know that he likes to shoot a lot of goal line, turns the corner hard and likes to throw that no-look shot," Runkel said Sunday. "He has scored a couple of goals like that on me the last two years. Ryan Brown is a very good overhand shooter, likes high-to-low, creates up high and mixes up things. Brandon Benn has really good hands inside, but can stretch the ball outside."

The Blue Jays, who have won five straight games this season, hold a 47-4 advantage in the series. But Loyola ended a 13-game losing streak to Hopkins with an 8-4 win last year at Homewood Field.

"We got our hands full there," Toomey said Sunday. "They are a well-balanced team that can beat you in so many ways. We know what is coming to Ridley. The sparks will be flying."

Hopkins happy for Loyola

Quietly, Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala had to be rooting for Loyola to win the Patriot League championship, which it did Sunday by smashing Lehigh, 16-7.

That win kept the Greyhounds at No. 1, and the Blue Jays need another quality win because they have only one — against Maryland — so far this season.

Meanwhile, Loyola hasn't played a top-10 opponent since Duke on March 9. The Greyhounds have played others like Army, Georgetown, Colgate and Boston University, but that schedule certainly doesn't match up to Hopkins'.

The Blue Jays have played Syracuse, Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland since Loyola beat Duke, 14-7, on March 9.

One key for Toomey in the postseason is to see if his team has been tested enough in big games.

In search of scoring

When Navy plays No. 7 Maryland on Saturday in College Park, maybe one of these teams will find an offense.

The Midshipmen have converted on just seven of 36 extra-man opportunities, and Maryland continues to go into an offensive slump at the end of every season. The Terps lost to Notre Dame, 6-5, over the weekend in an Atlantic Coast Conference semifinal at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

At least with Navy, there are no high expectations. But Maryland's offense shouldn't be as stagnant as Navy's.

What's the problem?

Maryland might be overcoached. The Terps are good in settled situations, but they rarely score off the transition. Even when they do settle, they rely too much on two-man games, and there isn't much cutting off ball.

A lot of teams can score early in the season, but where are the points in April and May once opposing teams have made adjustments?

Payback in ACC tourney

It was revenge weekend in the ACC.

All the big winners avenged losses earlier in the season when No. 3 Notre Dame beat Maryland in one semifinal, No. 4 Syracuse beat No. 5 Duke in the other semifinal and Notre Dame beat Syracuse to win the tournament title.

Even in the showcase game, No. 8 Virginia beat No. 9 North Carolina after losing to the Tar Heels earlier this month.

"There were so many close games throughout the year that a small psychological advantage like the perceived indignity of having lost the first time around may have actually provided some edge in the rematches," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "The 2014 ACC lacrosse season was like a comet, we may never see anything quite like it again in our sport.

"For Maryland [which won the regular season] and Notre Dame [which won the tournament], they now have a very unique and valuable trophy for their mantelpiece."

Smart play needed for Stevenson

Stevenson can win another national championship if the Mustangs show more discipline, including coach Paul Cantabene, who has been known to get a couple of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in big games.

Unfortunately, some of his players emulate that behavior and they aren't mature enough to turn it on and off like Cantabene.

The biggest culprit is defenseman Callum Robinson whose nickname should be "Box" because he stays in it so much because of penalties.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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