COLUMBUS, Ohio - Loyola University Maryland men's lacrosse used twin 3-0 runs in both halves to put distance between itself and Towson University on Sunday in the NCAA Championships Quarterfinals, and the Greyhounds earned their second trip to Championship Weekend in the last five years with a 10-8 victory over the Tigers at Ohio Stadium.
With a two-goal lead in the final 30 seconds of regulation, Jacob Stover made a pair of saves against tight Towson shots to preserve the victory.
The seventh-seeded Greyhounds (14-3) will face the University of North Carolina on Saturday, May 28, at 12 noon on ESPN2. The semifinals and championship game will be played in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field.
Loyola took a 2-0 lead in the game's first five minutes as Spencer and Romar Dennis tallied unassisted goals before Towson got on the board. The Tigers, however, responded with two-straight goals, and Ryan Drenner tied the score at 2-2 with 7:00 on the first-quarter clock.
The Greyhounds had the 30-second timer put on them for the second time in the quarter minutes later, and Zach Herreweyers dodged from the right slot into the middle and shot low-to-low for a goal at 2:24.
Herreweyers' fellow Canadian Tyler Albrecht then scored unassisted with 70 ticks left in the stanza, putting Loyola ahead by two.
Sirico put the first second-quarter goal into the next. He caught a Spencer feed amidst three Towson defenders and redirected a shot inside the right pipe at 11:15, staking the Greyhounds to a 5-2 advantage.
Towson got a goal back at 6:04 in the second as Zach Goodrich came free down the right alley to score, but with just over a minute to play before halftime, Sirico led Spencer around the crease with a feed. Spencer caught and scored high at 1:10, pushing the lead back to three.
The Tigers, however, converted with 6.1 seconds left in the half as Ben McCarthy raced down the left alley to score and make it a 6-4 halftime score.
McCarthy then pulled Towson within a goal 52 ticks into the third quarter as he rolled to his left and fired a bouncer for a goal.
Loyola won the next faceoff, but appeared to turn the ball over quickly with an errant pass. Towson's Mike Lowe, however, was flagged for a unnecessary roughness on a late hit of Herreweyers, and the Greyhounds went on extra-man.
Tigers goalkeeper Tyler White saved a Spencer shot, but Sirico picked up the loose ball, stick-faked White and scored at 13:10, giving the Greyhounds a 7-5 cushion.
Jay Drapeau then made it 8-5 Loyola racing down the left alley to score at 10:19. With 8:33 to go in the third, Spencer capped the 3-0 run with a quick-stick goal off a Sirico feed. Sirico initiated from behind the cage and stepped away from his defender to throw a pass to Spencer on the right side of the crease. That goal made the Loyola lead four, 9-5, it's largest of the game.
Towson, however, got two goals in the final six minutes of the quarter as Drenner scored at 5:28 before he assisted on a Spencer Parks goal with 1:24 left in the frame.
The Greyhounds had a two-goal lead to open the fourth quarter, an advantage that Sirico extended to 10-7 when he drove topside from X to bounce a shot in for a goal at 10:17.
Parks pulled the Tigers within two, 10-8, at 7:04, scoring off a Tyler Young assist, but that was as close as they could draw.
Towson went on man-up on a non-releasable one-minute penalty on Loyola, but the Greyhounds forced two turnovers to run out the Tigers' advantage.
Stover then saved a Mike Lynch attempt with 28 seconds left, a late-hit on Loyola put the Tigers man-up again. Ian Kirby had a shot from the crease on the right side, but Stover went low to save it, and the Greyhounds ran out the clock for the win.
Loyola had a 36-25 advantage in shots and a 26-17 lead in ground balls during the game. Savio had a game-high seven ground balls, and Mike Kutzer was credited with two caused turnovers for Loyola.
Sirico's three goals tied his career-high, and his four points were a season-best.