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No. 2 Maryland men's lacrosse vs. No. 8 Loyola preview

The Terps will look to make it two straight wins to open the season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse enters its second game of the 2022 season with a 1-0 record after a 21-13 victory over High Point. Logan Wisnauskas led the game with eight points, tallying five goals and three assists. Maryland’s transfers shined in their Terrapin debuts, with four goals from Owen Murphy and Keegan Khan, as well as two from Jonathan Donville.

“The rhythm of a game week is something that feels good after not having it for a long time,” Donville said after playing his first collegiate game in nearly two years. “I feel good, I physically feel great, the team feels great and our team looks great. We’re ready for a great test on Saturday.”

The Terps will get that test at noon on Saturday against Loyola, an in-state foe that Maryland’s program is exceptionally familiar with. This season’s meeting, set to be held at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, will be the 24th all-time meeting between the teams dating back to 1940. Maryland has had historical success against the Greyhounds, leading the series 21-2 all time. The last game between Maryland and Loyola was an 11-10 Maryland win on April 8, 2015.

Despite these results, the Greyhounds won the most consequential game between the two teams back in March 2012 when Loyola defeated Maryland 9-3 to win the program’s sole national title.

Saturday’s game will be broadcasted live on Big Ten Network and it’s set to begin at noon. Let’s take a look at the Greyhounds.

No. 8 Loyola Greyhounds (0-0)

2021 Record: 10-6, 4-3 Patriot League

Head coach Charley Toomey begins his 17th year as head coach at Loyola with the fourth-highest winning percentage among Division I head coaches with at least 10 years of experience. Toomey is a dedicated member of the Loyola lacrosse program, playing for four years and acting as an assistant for nine years prior to being named head coach in 2006. His teams have consistently been highly ranked and have averaged over 12 wins each season since 2012.

“They’re just so well-coached everywhere,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “They don’t beat themselves. They’re buttoned up defensively, you know their fundamentals are excellent. They’re super well-schooled. They just have a great sense of who they are. So they will test you for 60 minutes.”

Loyola’s 2021 season was full of ups and downs. The Greyhounds looked finished after starting the season 5-5, but they made the NCAA Tournament as they reached the quarterfinals for the third straight season and came within one goal of beating Duke for a trip to the national semifinals. The 2022 rendition of Loyola returns the vast majority of that team and is ranked in the top-10 by both Inside Lacrosse and USILA. It was picked as the preseason favorite in the Patriot League and had five players named Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Americans.

Players to watch

Ryan McNulty, graduate long-stick midfielder, No. 55. — McNulty returns in 2022 for his sixth year with Loyola. He was named a Preseason First-Team All-American by USILA, Inside Lacrosse, and USA Lacrosse Magazine as well as Preseason All-Patriot League. Since 2019, McNulty has led the Greyhounds in both ground balls and caused turnovers, establishing himself as one of the most impactful long-stick midfielders in the nation.

“We’re just treating him like a short stick. We kind of feel like once they get the ball, it’s basically three short sticks coming down,” Tillman mentioned about McNulty’s ability to affect the game on both ends of the field.

Cam Wyers, senior defenseman, No. 5. — Cam Wyers comes back for his senior year after a 2021 season that earned him Third Team All-American honors from USILA, Inside Lacrosse and USA Lacrosse Magazine. He was also named to the All-Patriot League First Team. Wyers is one of the top defenders in the nation in one-on-one matchups, locking down many of Loyola’s opponents’ top scorers. He has been recovering from an injury for the last few months but is expected to be active for the Greyhounds’ season opener against the Terps.

Kevin Lindley, graduate attacker, No. 7. Lindley is Loyola’s all-time leading goal scorer with 158 career goals, 102 of which have come in the last two full seasons. He was an honorable mention on Inside Lacrosse’s preseason All-American team. He has scored a hat trick in over half of his games at Loyola and is just six goals away from the all-time Patriot League record for career goals scored.

Aidan Olmstead, graduate attacker, No. 19. Olmstead and Lindley are a dynamic one-two punch that has been tearing up defenses for years. Olmstead led the Greyhounds in points last season and is fifth all-time at Loyola in career assists. He was a member of the All-Patriot League First Team a season ago. This production has forced Tillman to take notice of Olmstead and Lindley’s chemistry.

“They have such a good feel for each other,” Tillman said. “They may not seem open, but they’re open to them because they’ve done it over and over and over again.”

Strength

Experience. The Greyhounds return 41 players from last season’s team, making them one of the nation’s most experienced squads. They have nine seniors and nine graduate students on their roster, not including McNulty, who returns for his sixth season. Loyola’s coaching staff is also one of the longest-tenured in the country. The trio of Toomey, defensive coordinator Matt Dwan and offensive coordinator Marc Van Arsdale is now in its sixth season together.

Weakness

Consistency. Loyola has the pieces in place to be one of college lacrosse’s best teams this season. That being said, the Greyhounds did not play the full 2021 season with the same intensity they finished it. Additionally, they had two losses to unranked teams and four of their wins came by two or fewer goals. On offense, they had just as many games with 16 or more goals as they did with eight or fewer. These trends raise questions for Loyola this season: Will we see the team that was destined to miss the NCAA Tournament? Or will we see the team that nearly advanced to championship weekend?

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland’s defense bounce back? The Terrapins’ defense struggled to contain High Point’s offense a week ago, allowing 13 goals in the season opener. Although four of those goals came in the final six minutes with less experienced players on the field, facing a highly-touted opponent like Loyola means that the Terps cannot afford to relax on the defensive end if they want to win.

“A really good opportunity to see if within the next week we can be better [on defense]. If we do, it’s going to help us a lot. If we’re not there, we’re going to get exposed,” Tillman said.

Facing star playmakers like Lindley and Olmstead, the Terps are going to need to be locked in on Saturday and improve on last week’s performance.

2. Face-offs. Maryland’s face-off tandem of Luke Wierman and Gavin Tygh had an impressive performance against High Point, winning seven more face-offs than they lost. They will have to step their game up this week, however, as Loyola presents one of the nation’s top FOGOs in Bailey Savio. Savio, who returns as a graduate student, was named a preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse and has the program record for ground balls as well as a career face-off winning percentage that ranks in Loyola’s all-time top ten. If Maryland falls far behind in the face-off battle, the margin of error for their other units shrinks drastically.

3. McNaney vs. Shafer. Junior goalie Logan McNaney will be in between the pipes for the Terps, facing off against graduate student Sam Shafer, who assumes the goalie position for the Greyhounds. Shafer, like the rest of his team, had an impressive finish to the 2021 season, allowing less than ten goals per game over the final seven contests of the season. He also had one of the season’s most impressive saves, a denial from right outside the crease that secured Loyola’s win over Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. McNaney’s play was key to Maryland’s success in 2021, and with a team as talented as Loyola it will be very important on Saturday.

“He’s really advanced his game and [they] feel very confident playing in front of him… [they] feel really good with him and the whole defense,” Maryland graduate defenseman Matt Rahill expressed about his team’s confidence in McNaney.