Moments after Loyola was eliminated by top-seeded Penn State in the NCAA national quarterfinals, Pat Spencer was flooded with memories as he slowly walked off the field.
The Greyhounds' senior attackman had a drop-the-mic moment in that final game, finishing with five goals and six assists for a career-high 11 points in a 21-14 loss.
That performance capped a stellar career that would resonate beyond that muggy afternoon in May.
Two weeks later, Spencer became the first Loyola men's lacrosse player to receive the Tewaaraton Award as the nation's top player.
"It was definitely a sad feeling," Spencer said of his last game. "Thinking about all of the good times that I've had with friends, family and coaches definitely made it a bittersweet moment. In the exact moment I didn't have time to think about the accomplishments. I just thought more about the people around me. What stands out the most is the people that I shared so many great moments with. I've had so many great teammates and I just can't thank everyone involved enough."
The Boys' Latin alum finished his career as the all-time leader in assists in NCAA Division I history (231) and second in career points (380). He also set Patriot League and school records in career points and assists. He finished second at Loyola in goals (149), a total that is fourth in conference history.
Spencer became the first Loyola player to be named the Lt. Raymond J. Enners Most Outstanding Player of the Year by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. He was also one of two first-team All-Americans for the Greyhounds, becoming a four-time All-American in the process -- a first in Loyola and Patriot League history.
Spencer might have had his best season for the Greyhounds as a senior, enhancing an already stellar legacy. He broke his own school and conference records for points (114) and assists (65), becoming the first player in school history to score 100 or more points in a single campaign. It came one year after notching the first 90-plus point season at Loyola. Spencer became the first player in Patriot League history to earn Offensive Player of the Year and All-Patriot League First Team recognition all four seasons in the sport.
"It has been a joy to watch the development of Pat through high school and his final lacrosse game collegiately," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "People see what Pat brings to the program on the field, but as the head coach, I appreciate everything that he has brought to Loyola lacrosse in the classroom and in the locker room.
"Pat has lived in a fishbowl since his freshman year. Watching him handle those moments both on and off the field has been remarkable. He came to us as a player, but he is leaving as a coach on the field for Loyola. We both played for [former Boys' Latin coach] Bobby Shriver, and for Pat to stay local and have his parents and grandparents at scrimmages and games was something that was very special to him, and it means so much to us, too."
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Loyola Athletic Communications
Spencer scored a career-high 49 goals as senior, which ranks sixth in school single-season history. He was most dangerous against the nation's best teams. Spencer combined for 26 goals and 29 assists against eventual national champion Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Towson, Duke, Georgetown, Army West Point, Syracuse, Penn State and Rutgers -- all of which rank among the nation's top teams.
"For a young man as tall and as big as he is, his ability to move and utilize a defender's pressure to his advantage is extremely impressive," Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni said. "[Spencer] probably combines the best of all attributes and becomes a really dangerous cover because he's not limited to just one skill set of a feeder or just a dodger or just a shooter. He really covers the gamut."
Spencer was drafted in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2019 Major League Lacrosse Draft by the Chesapeake Bayhawks. He was also taken as the first overall pick by the Archers LC in the inaugural draft of the Premier Lacrosse League.
For now, Spencer has put his pro lacrosse career on hold to play college basketball next season for Northwestern. Spencer has one year of eligibility remaining to play basketball. As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play during the 2019-20 season.
"As far as lacrosse goes, I'm not sure what my future holds," Spencer said. "I'm more so focused on this next year and then I think I will see what I want to do. As of now nothing is ruled out."
Spencer has the size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and athleticism to make an impact for a Big Ten basketball program. He is not a novice to the sport; he spends his summers playing in the ultra-competitive Annapolis Summer Basketball League at Truxtun Park.
"I don't have any personal goals as far as numbers," Spencer said before committing to Northwestern. "That's never been my thing. I'm more focused on improving certain aspects of my game in order to help whatever team I end up on succeed. My hope for college basketball is the same as lacrosse, and that's to win a national title. I don't know however if I'll be able to play at Truxtun Park, as I'll probably spend most of my summer on the campus that I end up at."
Spencer played varsity basketball at Boys' Latin, where he averaged 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Spencer's brother, Cam, recently graduated from Boys' Latin and will play basketball at Loyola.
"One of the best things with Pat departing is that we know he will always remain close to our program and Loyola," Toomey said, "especially while he is in the stands for the next four years watching his brother, Cam, play for our men's basketball team."
Spencer enjoyed his time at Loyola beyond lacrosse. He appreciated the academic and social aspects of the school. Now, he's ready for the next adventure.
"Overall, my academic and social experiences at Loyola were incredible," he said. "They were both so incredible because of the amazing relationships that I had while attending Loyola. I'm just thankful that I was able to spend four years of my life at this incredible place."
Loyola appreciates his contributions to the school and men's lacrosse program. The Tewaaraton Award will hold a special place for the school.
"This is an incredible honor for Pat as the deserving recipient of the Tewaaraton," Loyola athletic director Donna Woodruff said. "It has been our pleasure to share in Pat's career as an exceptional student and athlete at Loyola University Maryland and we are thrilled at his selection as the first Greyhound to be recognized as the nation's top lacrosse player.
"I know I speak for all past, present and future Greyhounds in extending my sincere congratulations to Pat on his impressive career and in celebrating this well-deserved honor."
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Loyola Athletics
Issue 255: June/July 2019