Loyola Greyhounds freshman goalie Jacob Stover emerged as one of the team's top players. After taking over the starting job, Stover played a key role in helping Loyola reach the NCAA Division I national semifinals. He went 10-2 as the starter and allowed 7.80 goals per game with a .569 save percentage. Stover, the son of former Ravens kicker Matt Stover, earned three letters at McDonogh, where he was named to the MIAA A conference First Team in 2015.
How did you get better as the season progressed?
Jacob Stover: I watched a ton of film, and I stayed after practice to take shots [from other Loyola players]. I became more comfortable in the cage once I knew I had earned the trust of my teammates. Coach [Charley] Toomey and I would watch film and figure out the tendencies of each offensive player we were playing against. I worked harder to learn the defensive calls and sets, so I could vocally lead the defense during games. I started to enjoy the games more and had fun playing, which allowed me to be more relaxed and focus on the ball.
As a former goalie, what type of advice did Coach Toomey provide during the season?
JS: Coach Toomey and I would meet before practice on Monday's to discuss the defensive breakdowns and goals allowed during the most recent game. He really helped me break down and fix my goalie form. He also helped me process my decision-making while I was in the cage and gave me confidence in my ability. He always said, "Go enjoy the moment and ignore all the distractions that can prevent you from being at your best." He told me before the semifinals game to block out everything above the top pipe of the goal.
What do you plan to work on most during the offseason?
JS: I plan to attack my athletic ability outside of the crease and get even more comfortable with the defensive calls to minimize communication breakdowns. I am also going to be seeing many shots from different shooters around my area.
How closely did you follow McDonogh's run to the MIAA title? Do you still keep in touch with head coach Andy Hilgartner?
JS: I made sure to keep in touch with Coach Hilgartner, and I was able to attend a few games this year. When we were traveling to Ohio State, I texted all the players to wish them luck and spoke of last year's loss and the pain of regret. I told them to leave everything they had on the field and their effort will dictate the outcome of the game. All the coaches, and a few teammates, were piled in coach Toomey's hotel room watching McDonogh play Boys' Latin in the MIAA Championship live on Coach's computer.
Overall, how was your first year at Loyola with academics and the campus experience?
JS: Loyola is a home away from home for me. Balancing school and lacrosse took some time to get used to, but Loyola is very good to their student-athletes and provides the support we need. I now realize the amount of work and effort it takes to play a sport and keep your grades up. I really enjoyed Loyola both on and off the field.