Facing the toughest opponent of its inaugural season, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team competed valiantly, but fell to No. 1/3 Loyola University-Maryland, 15-6, in Baltimore.
Freshman goalkeeper Tyler Zickel made the second start of his career in place of classmate Christian Carson-Banister, who was sidelined due to injury.
From the opening whistle, the Terriers (1-11, 1-6 Patriot League) proved that they were not going to let the heavily favored Greyhounds (11-1, 7-0 Patriot League) have their way. Less than a minute into the game, BU struck first. Zickel made a save on what looked to be a point-blank opportunity for the Greyhounds’ leading goal scorer attack Nikko Pontrello.
Freshman midfielder Billy Kane collected the loose ball and sprinted up the field where he found sophomore midfielder Alex Paroda, who launched a shot from distance that flew by goalkeeper Jack Runkel.
BU’s defense would then hold strong against the potent Loyola offense, forcing a 30-second clock violation. However, on the subsequent Terrier possession, defender Justin Fletcher picked off a pass intended for freshman attack Adam Schaal and sent the ball forward, where senior Matt Sawyer was able to tie up the score.
Less than two minutes later, the Greyhounds scored another goal in transition as midfielder Pat Laconi caught the Terrier defense off guard and gave the home side a 2-1 advantage with 9:32 left in the opening quarter.
Loyola would get one more goal in the first frame at the 6:37 mark when Sawyer picked up a loose ball off of a Zickel save and dished it to senior Kevin Ryan, who converted to make the score 3-1.
The second quarter was a defensive showdown, as neither defensive unit gave the offense any room to breathe. Freshman attack Ryan Johnston almost cut into the Loyola advantage on BU’s first offensive possession, but his spinning shot from the right side of the crease went just wide of the net.
After redshirt freshman attack Sam Tenney’s shot from close range was stopped by Runkel, the Greyhounds took a time out with 4:57 left in the half. Right after the break, Jeff Chase found the back of the net to push Loyola’s lead to 4-1. Chase’s goal would be the only that either team would convert in the frame.
Zickel and his defensive unit kept the Terriers close at the break. The Hudson, Ohio native made eight saves in the half, while the defense went 7-of-10 on clear attempts against the Loyola offense that came into the game ranked fifth in the NCAA.
On the other end of the field, the BU offense tested a Greyhounds defense that sits fourth in the nation in scoring defense. The Terriers took 15 shots in the half, and forced Runkel to make eight saves.
In the third frame, things would open up for both sides. Freshman midfielder Sam Talkow won the opening faceoff to give the Terriers the first attacking chance of the second half. On the possession, freshman midfielder Craig Zebrowski got the ball near midfield, made a darting run down the right alley and slotted one past Runkel to make it a two-goal game a little more than a minute into the half.
Zebrowski’s goal proved to be a wake-up call for the dormant Greyhound offense that went on to score four unanswered goals to open up an 8-2 advantage with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter. BU would respond with two quick goals from freshman midfielders Chad Bell and Sammy Davis to bring the Terriers back to within four goals of the Greyhounds.
At the 1:34 mark, the Patriot League leader in assists, attack Justin Ward, notched the 37th helper of his senior campaign when he capped off a long Greyhound possession with a pass across the frame of the goal to midfielder Tyler Albrecht, who scored to make the Loyola lead 9-4 through the first three quarters.
Loyola continued its scoring surge to start the fourth as freshman Ryan Fournier tallied his third goal of the year with 13:26 to go in the contest, pushing the Greyhound lead back to six goals.
BU would fight back, though, and Tenney took advantage of a man-up opportunity to make it 10-5 in favor of Loyola. Freshman midfielder Cal Dearth assisted on Tenney’s goal and with 7:12 remaining, he converted his own unassisted effort in transition, bringing the score to 10-6.
From there, the Loyola offense took over, scoring five straight goals to end the contest. Pontrello, who stands second in the nation in goals per game, scored three of the Greyhounds’ goals and Ward assisted on two during the stretch.
Although the result was another loss for the Terriers, the team showed signs of improvement. Zickel made a career-high 14 saves and the defense went 19-for-23 on clears. In addition, the team only committed 15 turnovers, a markedly better result than the 26 it had in its last matchup against Harvard University, a 14-9 loss, last Tuesday.
BU coach Ryan Polley could not be reached for comment.