ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Graham Savio won 15-of-23 faceoffs, and Pat Spencer finished with a Patriot League Championship Game record with 10 points, as Loyola University Maryland punched its ticket to the NCAA Championships with a 14-6 victory over the U.S. Military Academy on Sunday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
Loyola (12-3 overall) will find out its NCAA Championships' fate on Sunday, May 8, during the NCAA Selection Show at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. The win gives Loyola its second Patriot League title since starting play in the league in 2014, and it is the Greyhounds' third conference crown in the last five seasons.
Savio was named the Championship's Most Valuable Player after going 26-of-40 in the two games. He picked-up a season-high 12 ground balls and was 15-of-23 against the Black Knights who entered the game ranked No. 6 nationally in faceoff winning percentage (.639).
Spencer's 10 points on five goals and five assists moved him into a tie for fourth-place overall on Loyola's single-season point chart with 71. Gary Hanley has the top three point-total seasons and holds the record at 89 from 1981. He also tied Eric Lusby (2012) and Justin Ward (2014) for the school Division I record in the category.
He had two goals and two assists in the first quarter as Loyola went ahead, 6-3, when he scored a one-handed goal with three seconds left in the first quarter.
Defensively, the Greyhounds yielded 32 shots and just six goals, but just three in settled six-on-six offense.
The game did not start as decisively in Loyola's favor, however, as Savio won the opening faceoff cleaning only to have it checked from behind by Army West Point's Dan Grabher. The Black Knights' faceoff specialist got the groundball and scored on a 13-yard shot just eight seconds into the contest.
Army West Point's lead would be both short-lived and its only one of the game.
John Duffy skipped a pass through traffic to Spencer on the left side, and Spencer shot a low-to-low bullet into the lower right corner at 11:46. Spencer was then on the feeding end of the Greyhounds' second goal, a Tyler Albrecht goal that came as he was pushed into the crease with 10:50 left in the first.
Army West Point evened the score a last time at 8:37 when David Symmes went right-to-left to score with a sweeping high-to-low shot from 10 yards up top.
The score would remain tied for just 52 seconds until the Greyhounds took advantage of a quick restart that followed a shot going out of bounds. Spencer sent it to Zack Sirico behind the net, and Sirico rolled to goal-line extended on the left. Albrecht's defender sunk toward Sirico who sent a pass to Albrecht for a goal from the high-left side.
That tally with 7:29 on the first-quarter clock put Loyola in front for good and started a 4-0 run to end the quarter.
Zach Herreweyers and Romar Dennis followed with goals at 5:42 and 3:40, assisted by Spencer and Brian Sherlock, respectively, before Spencer had a highlight-reel goal with three ticks left in the frame.
He came topside from behind the cage with Army West Point defender Austin Schultz in good defensive position. Spencer put his stick in his left hand and slung a goal inside the far post to put Loyola up, 6-2.
Army West Point snapped the Greyhounds' run with a goal at 13:23 in the second quarter. Cole Johnson caught a Nate Jones pass and scored while the Black Knights were on a two-man advantage.
Jay Drapeau pushed the advantage back to four for Loyola as he took his defender from one side of the crease to the other, behind the goal, took advantage of a switch and found the net just over four minutes following Johnson's goal.
That was the Greyhounds' only goal of the second quarter, however, and Army West Point made got within three, 7-4, as Ted Glesener scored from a Connor Cook assist with 2:33 left in the half.
The Black Knights looked to further close the gap at the end of the second quarter, causing a turnover and taking over on offense with less than a minute to play. A Johnson shot sailed wide, however, and Jacob Stover made a save on a 10-yard Conor Glancy look just before the second-quarter's horn.
Loyola poured on the offense early in the second half, adding to its lead with four goals in the first six minutes of the third quarter.
The Greyhounds took advantage of a scramble situation 25 yards from the goal that Sherlock came out of a scrume with the ball. He sent a pass to Spencer on the doorstep, and he beat Army West Point goalkeeper A.J. Barretto one-on-one 46 ticks in the period.
Herreweyers then scored his second of the day as he slipped topside from behind, and Spencer found him with a pass from left-point.
Sherlock then scored -- he had a goal and two assists to go with four groundballs -- 4:44 into the quarter. Dennis shot a high-to-low pass from point to Sherlock six yards out, and Sherlock wheeled to shoot and score.
Drapeau put a cap on the 4-0 run when Spencer drew a slide in the right alley and passed to Drapeau who converted his second goal of the day with a sidearm strike.
The Black Knights broke through for the first time in the second half, again scoring on a two-man advantage, with a Cook goal at 7:53.
Loyola countered with a man-up goal of its own 1:58 later when Spencer hit Jordan Germershausen in the middle of the Army West Point defense for his 10th of the season. That goal gave Loyola a 12-5 lead it would carry into the fourth quarter.
Spencer tacked on a pair of unassisted goals in the final eight minutes, wrapped around a Shea Mullins score for the Black Knights. He is the fourth player this season to score at least five goals with five assists in a game.
Spencer joined Savio on the All-Tournament Team along with Stover and defender Foster Huggins.
Stover made 10 saves against the Black Knights and had 21 in the tournament, while Huggins did not allow Johnson to record a goal or an assist in a six-on-six situation.
Loyola maintained a 30-24 groundball advantage over the Black Knights, thanks in large part to Savio's 11 that were one off his career-high. For the third game in a row, the Greyhounds' wing unit did not allow the opponents' top long-stick midfielder to have a groundball on a faceoff win.
Jack Carrigan added four and had a game-high three caused turnovers.