While Loyola lost to eventual national champion North Carolina, 18-13, in the NCAA national semifinals May 28, the Greyhounds have the talent and depth to be a perennial contender.
Much of the optimism centers on freshman attackman and leading scorer Pat Spencer (Boys' Latin). He finished the year with 52 assists -- one shy of tying Justin Ward's single-season record -- and 37 goals for 89 points. Spencer had two or more points in all 18 of the Greyhounds' games this season. Spencer was named a second-team All-American by the USILA.
"To watch his development from the fall through the course of this season, what takes you back is just his composure with the ball," head coach Charley Toomey said about Spencer. "Right-handed, left-handed, being able to be physical and then step away, look through the defense, has handled every situation that's been thrown to him. A press out, an early slide, a physical game, nothing fazes the young man."
Junior teammate Brian Sherlock will also be back after earning honorable mention All-American honors for the second year in a row. Sherlock was an All-Patriot League first-team honoree for the third straight year.
Freshman goalie Jacob Stover emerged as one of the team's top players. After some growing pains, he could be a difference-maker throughout next season.
"I think we progressed all year," Spencer said. "If you look at it from the beginning of the season to now, I don't think anybody would have put us in the Final Four, like Coach [Toomey] was saying in the locker room after our Navy loss [March 19]. But obviously, it was an uphill slope all year, and we got better and better as a team. The chemistry was always there. But on the field, I think we just progressed all year."
Issue 222: June 2016