Sunday, May 1, 2016
Spencer Powers Loyola To Win
The No. 11 Greyhounds can take a certain amount of comfort in knowing they are the first program in Division I to lock up a spot in the NCAA tournament after dusting Army, 14-6, in the Patriot League tournament final Sunday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
In a near-repeat of a 12-6 victory over the Black Knights on April 22, Loyola, the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, was convincing and overpowering on both ends of the field before an announced crowd of 964.
The Greyhounds, who improved to 12-3 and extended their winning streak to eight games, can rest easy and wait to see where their name will pop up when the 18-team field for the NCAA tournament is announced May 8. With a strong Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) bolstered by victories over No. 8 Johns Hopkins, Virginia and Army twice, the team appears to have positioned itself to host a first-round contest at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.Loyola, which captured its second Patriot League tournament crown in three years, was fueled offensively by attackman Pat Spencer. The Davidsonville resident and Boys' Latin graduate, who became the first player in conference history to claim Offensive Player and Rookie of the Year honors outright, set a league title game record for points with 10. He tallied five goals and five assists.
Spencer's outburst tied a Patriot League tournament record of 10 points set by Bucknell's Will Sands in Tuesday's quarterfinal win against Holy Cross. Spencer, who tied Eric Lusby (2012) and Justin Ward (2014) for the school's Division I mark for points in a season with 71, registered two goals and two assists to propel the Greyhounds to a 6-2 lead in the first quarter and then added one goal and three assists in a third quarter that gave the team a 12-5 advantage.
Spencer credited offensive coordinator Ryan Moran for crafting a strategy in which Spencer initiated from up top. That forced the Black Knights to slide early and open the interior for his teammates.
"I was trying to take what the defense gave me," Spencer said. "Their defense liked to haze and get back. We knew that going in, and Coach Moran gave us a pretty crystal-clear game plan. We don't really change much up. We change a few things to tweak our offense overall, but honestly, it's just winning your one-on-one matchup and getting guys to slide and moving the ball."