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2019 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Preview: Loyola's Pat Spencer Focused On Team Goals, Not Individual Honors

February 19, 2019
Log on to YouTube and you can find a slew of highlight-reel goals by Loyola men's lacrosse senior attackman Pat Spencer.

There's the behind-the-back shot against Towson. The spinning, underhanded goal against Virginia. And the time he ran through five defenders for a close-range score against Bucknell. 

For the last three seasons, Spencer has tormented opposing defenses. 

Now, he enters his senior year as the Warrior/U.S. Lacrosse Division I Men's Preseason Player of the Year.

He is undaunted by the lofty expectations. 

"Loyola was on the map before I got here, and over the last three years we have been able to keep that standard up," Spencer said. "My hope is that I have been able to keep that tradition alive and increase the visibility of the program. If I can help in that way, that is great."

In 2018, the Greyhounds (13-4 overall, 7-1 Patriot League) won their third straight conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in seven years. Loyola won a first-round game against Virginia, 14-12, and advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to eventual national champion Yale, 8-5. 

The Greyhounds, who are ranked No. 4 in the Inside Lacrosse media preseason poll, have the talent to make another run. 

In addition to Spencer, senior midfielder John Duffy and senior goalkeeper Jacob Stover (McDonogh) were named to the preseason All-Patriot League team. Loyola was the unanimous pick to repeat as Patriot League champions in a poll of the conference's coaches and sports information personnel.

Spencer is laser-focused on bringing another national championship to the Evergreen campus. The Greyhounds, however, need to replace several key players on the attack, most notably Jay Drapeau, a USILA second-team All-American. Spencer will have to get several other young players involved, such as sophomores Aidan Olmstead and Kevin Lindley. 

Spencer is already the all-time leader in assists (166) in the history of Loyola and the Patriot League. He is also second all time in points (266) at Loyola behind Gary Hanley (311) and ranks 10th all time in goals scored (100). He's also 10th in NCAA Division I history in total assists and tied for 28th in career points. 

Spencer has evolved from leading by example to a vocal leader for the Greyhounds. 

"I have become more aggressive as a leader in terms of voicing my opinion as to what I see and what we need to do as a team," he said. "I look at it differently each year, seeing what each team needs out of each guy."

Once again, Spencer will draw the opponent's top defenseman. That's another challenge he has embraced as the leader of the offense. But the overall focus remains on the team as opposed to individual honors. 

"I have never set specific individual goals for myself other than that I want to compete at the highest level that I can in every game and practice," Spencer said. "As a team, we still have the same goals of winning a Patriot League and national title. That has not changed, and I believe we will have the chance to do that this year."

In addition to lacrosse, the 6-foot-3 Spencer has his sights on potentially playing one year of college basketball. He is on track to graduate this spring but still has one year of eligibility that he could use to play hoops. In the summer, he competes in the ultra-competitive Annapolis Summer Basketball League. 

"I definitely want to play," he said. "Right now, all of that stuff is secondary to lacrosse, but I will get it all figured out. Any time you play another sport, I think it is good for you athletically. A lot of traits of basketball and lacrosse are very similar in terms of spacing and philosophy, so playing basketball has made me better as a whole." 

Maryland   (2018 Record: 14-4; 4-1 Big Ten)

Issue 251: Maryland Men's Lacrosse: Logan Wisnauskas
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
The Terrapins are young and talented. Sophomore attackman Logan Wisnauskas (Boys' Latin) started all 18 games last year, finishing with 35 goals and 15 assists. His 50 points and 35 goals ranked second in Maryland single-season freshman history. He will be joined by fellow attackman and USIA All-American Jared Bernhardt (40 goals, 16 assists). Sophomore Bubba Fairman will also look to build on his freshman season, during which he also started all 18 games and finished with 26 goals and nine assists.  

Maryland, however, must overcome several key losses, most notably Connor Kelly (46 goals, 36 assists) and Tim Rotanz (20 goals, 21 assists) in the midfield. Head coach John Tillman will rely on several playmakers to fill that void, including junior Ethan Mintzer (Calvert Hall), sophomore Anthony DeMaio and seniors Will Snider and Christian Zawadzki.

Johns Hopkins   (2018 Record: 12-5; 3-2 Big Ten)

Issue 251: Johns Hopkins Men's Lacrosse: Cole Williams
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletics
The Blue Jays are coming off their second Big Ten tournament championship. However, Johns Hopkins lost some of its key players to graduation, including midfielders Joel Tinney and Brinton Valis, along with attackman Shack Stanwick. The return of senior Kyle Marr (41 goals, 17 assists) and junior Cole Williams (35 goals, 14 assists), a Loyola Blakefield product, will help soften that blow. 

Sophomore Connor DeSimone is the headliner at midfield after notching 16 goals last season. The defense returns three starters, including junior Patrick Foley, a third-team USILA All-American. Sophomore Ryan Darby is the heir apparent in goal after backing up Brock Turnbaugh in 2018.

Towson   (2018 Record: 7-8; 3-2 Colonial Athletic Association)

Issue 251: Towson Men's Lacrosse: Chad Patterson
Photo Credit: Rob Maloof/Towson Athletics
The Tigers overcame some early setbacks in 2018 to put together another solid season, advancing to the conference tournament for the seventh consecutive year. Towson prides itself on defense, and that unit should be solid again with the return of senior Chad Patterson (Westminster) and junior Gray Bodden (Winters Mill). 

Sophomore goalie Shane Brennan (9.33 goals-against average) is expected to take the next step in his development. Senior short-stick defensive midfielder Zach Goodrich (Kent Island) also will play a vital role.

The Tigers will have a balanced attack led by two seniors in South River alum Grant Maloof (20 goals, five assists) and Brendan Sunday (17 goals, six assists). Gonzaga grad Timmy Monahan (15 goals, 13 assists), also a senior, will be a challenging matchup for opponents, too. Senior midfielder Alex Woodall (St. Mary's) is one of the top faceoff specialists in the nation, winning 168 of his 276 battles (.609). The midfield is also led by sophomore Luke Fromert (Kent Island) and junior Matt Sovero. 

Navy  (2018 Record: 9-5; 7-1 Patriot League)

Issue 251: Navy Men's Lacrosse: Ryan Kern
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Navy Athletics
The Midshipmen lost several key players to graduation, especially on defense. However, junior goalie Ryan Kern (8.82 goals-against average) will help anchor that unit. He will be supported by sophomores Andrew McKenna and Nick Franchuk and junior Tommy Miller (St. Mary's) on the back end. Sophomore Jeff Durden is also a returner at long-stick defensive midfield.

Seniors Greyson Torain (19 goals, 14 assists) and Ryan Wade (nine goals, 24 assists) and sophomore Christian Daniel (21 goals, 10 assists) should provide an effective attack.

UMBC  (2018 Record: 5-8; 3-3 America East)

Issue 251: UMBC Men's Lacrosse: Tommy Lingner
Photo Credit: David Sinclair/UMBC Athletics
The Retrievers pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 season, knocking off No. 1 Albany, 11-7, in April. UMBC should have a stellar defense led by sophomore goalie Tommy Lingner, who led the nation in goals-against average (7.33).

The return of seniors Gunnar Schimoler (South River) and Pat Clipp (Marriotts Ridge) should bolster the midfield. Senior Billy Nolan (Arundel) had a breakout season and finished with a career-high 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists). Freshman attackman Trevor Patschorke (Severna Park) is looking to bounce back from a torn ACL. 

Division III

Stevenson  (2018 Record: 12-7;  8-0 Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth)

Issue 251: Stevenson Men's Lacrosse: JT Thelen
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/Stevenson Athletics
The Mustangs have not lost a regular-season league game in six years, going 48-0 during that span. That trend could continue this season. The trio of senior JT Thelen (70 goals, 29 assists, the second-highest single season point total in Mustang history), junior Ethan Christensen (46 goals, 35 assists) and sophomore Jacob Tatum (29 goals, 16 assists) will create matchup problems for most opposing defenses. 

Senior Gray McKee (19 goals, 14 assists) will help anchor the midfield after starting 13 games last season. Junior goalkeeper Sam Ross is back after starting all 19 games last season. He posted a 9.38 goals-against average and was named a USILA honorable mention All-American.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Loyola Athletics, Courtesy of Maryland Athletics, Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletics, Rob Maloof/Towson Athletics, Courtesy of Navy Athletics, David Sinclair/UMBC Athletics, Sabina Moran/Stevenson Athletics

Issue 251: February 2019