No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse once again looked like an unstoppable unit in its season opener against No. 20 Richmond. It seemed as if there was no step back for the Terps in the 15-4 win following their national championship victory a season ago.
That was until the Terps were caught in a back-and-forth battle with Loyola Saturday afternoon, a game that jeopardized the team’s 25-game regular season winning streak. Every time Loyola scored, Maryland responded, and vice versa.
Then, the fourth quarter hit.
Up by two goals already, the Greyhounds secured a ground ball and pushed quickly in transition. Loyola graduate midfielder Payton Rezanka found his trailing teammate Mustang Sally to his right, who sent a lunging low-angled shot through the legs of senior Logan McNaney into the back of the net.
Loyola’s lead only grew to three, but it scored three more goals in the next four minutes to ice the upset win.
Sally’s goal did more than improve Loyola’s lead — it sucked the life out of the Terps, and quickly put them into a tailspin that became too much to overcome.
“Got a couple back, thought we were gonna get over that hump and roll a bit, get some momentum going, and they just were able to get a couple in transition, a couple energy goals for them,” graduate defender Brett Makar said. “Tough for us to bounce back.”
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The score came off of a Maryland turnover, when junior attacker Owen Murphy simply could not catch a pass sent directly to his body, resulting in the scrum Loyola came out on top of. It was one of 22 Maryland turnovers as the Terps looked sloppy throughout the duration of the game.
Constant dropped passes, off-target passes, off-target shots and overall self-mistakes hurt the Terps, and they lost as a result.
“We’ve had some moments where it’s not been great, and I think that showed a little bit,” coach John Tillman said.
While Maryland looked like a significantly different unit than in its season opener, it wasn’t just because of its own mistakes. The Loyola defense came out on a mission, making sure to not have a repeat of its season opener in 2022 — when the Terps steamrolled the Greyhounds 20-8, including 10 goals alone in the second quarter.
Loyola junior goalkeeper Luke Staudt was the anchor of the Greyhounds defense, securing 19 saves as a brick wall in the cage. His quick reflexes and great stick work caused fits for the Maryland offense.
“You have to give their defense credit, and I think you have to give their goalie a lot of credit,” Tillman said. “We had some opportunities, and we did not can them.”
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Maryland registered 16 more shots and won 14 more face-offs than Loyola. The Terps put up 42 shots, eight more than in their season opener. But they scored only seven times — just 16 percent of their shots found the back of the net.
“We make a lot of our money throughout the week preparing, coming into the game prepared, and I thought … we did a good job throughout the week of preparing for these guys, but tip my cap to those guys, they came ready to go, they were just the better team,” Makar said.
To make matters worse for the Terps, their star goalkeeper left injured in the fourth quarter.
Down multiple goals with just a few minutes left in the fourth, McNaney started to creep more downfield as he tried to force Loyola turnovers. McNaney stepped awkwardly near the Loyola sideline, and immediately could not put pressure on his right foot. McNaney limped his way to the Maryland bench, and after being looked at for a minute by the training staff, limped with help to the locker room.
Tillman said postgame he was uncertain about the situation with McNaney.
Performances such as the one against Loyola — in addition to possibly losing its starting goalkeeper for a considerable amount of time — does not fare well for the Terps’ hopes of repeating as national champions as the season goes on.