The NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinals feature matchups between two attackmen pushing for national Player of the Year honors and a pair of old nemeses.
No. 8 Loyola (12-4) vs. No. 1 Penn State (15-1)
Where: Hempstead, N.Y.
When: Sunday, May 19 at noon.
Pat Spencer and eighth-seeded Loyola take on top-seeded Penn State and Grant Ament May 19. The Terrapins face their former ACC rival and third seeded Virginia May 18.
Spencer, a senior, and Ament, a redshirt junior, are among five players vying for the coveted 2019 Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse's equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.
"When you've got two players like those guys, it's exciting," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "You very rarely in the college game have two Tewaaraton Award finalists with the opportunity to go at each other.
"It's not something we talk about because they're on different sides of the field. But for the fans, they've seen it on SportsCenter, they've seen it on TV, but to see it live and in person with the speed and size of these kids, it's pretty impressive."
Spencer, a Boys' Latin graduate, set the NCAA record for career assists (226) during the Greyhounds' first-round game against Syracuse, passing Albany's Lyle Thompson. Spencer also moved into second in career points (369) behind Thompson's 400.
Spencer is the first player in Patriot League men's lacrosse history to win four Offensive Player of the Year honors, and he is the fourth player in any Patriot League sport to earn the same annual award four times.
Ament has 109 points on the season, including an NCAA single-season record 83 assists. He was the unanimous Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Mac O'Keefe leads the Nittany Lions with 66 goals and scored the game-winning goal against Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten tournament championship.
The key for Loyola will be to get off to a fast start and avoid having to play from behind against a team that leads the nation with 17.8 goals per game.
"They play fast, loose and I think part of it for us is we are going to have to play a little bit of defense with our offense and not be careless in transition and give them back that second chance," Toomey said. "I do think weathering the first 10 minutes of the game is key. If you look at a lot of their games, they've gone up four or five to one on a lot of opponents and then people had to crawl back.
"You have to be able to weather the early storm, not only on each possession, but certainly the early storm of the game, and give yourself a chance in the last 50 minutes of the game."
Maryland (12-4) vs. No. 3 Virginia (14-3)
Where: East Hartford, Conn.
When: Saturday, May 18 at noon.
Maryland and Virginia had one of the best rivalries in college lacrosse before the Terrapins moved to the Big Ten. Maryland holds a 47-44 edge all time against the Cavaliers, but the teams have not played since 2014.
"When you see those two programs meet again it does bring up some cool memories and I think it gets people excited," Maryland coach John Tillman said.
Terrapins junior attackman Jared Bernhardt is also a 2019 Tewaaraton Award finalist and leads the team with 47 goals. Bernhardt is second in points (73) behind sophomore and Boys' Latin alumnus Logan Wisnauskas (42 goals, 33 assists, 75 points).
scored the game-tying goal
with 3.7 seconds left in an eventual 14-13 victory against sixth-seeded Towson in the first round.
The Cavaliers are the ACC champions and are led by Matt Moore, who has 38 goals and 39 assists, and Michael Kraus (34 goals, 28 assists). Petey LaSalla has won 177 of 296 (60 percent) of his faceoff attempts.
Virginia rolled past Robert Morris, 19-10, in the first round. Mikey Herring scored a career-high six goals and Ryan Conrad (Loyola Blakefield) also set a career high with five goals.
Cavaliers coach Lars Tiffany was named the ACC Men's Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Loyola Athletics and Maryland Athletics