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Loyola University Maryland's Eric Lusby had four goals and set a tournament scoring record as the Greyhounds beat the University of Maryland 9-3 to win their first National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s lacrosse championship.
Lusby’s final goal was his 17th of the tournament, while goalie Jack Runkel made six saves for the top-seeded Greyhounds yesterday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
After trailing 3-2, Loyola scored seven unanswered goals and held Maryland scoreless for the final 40 minutes to seal its first title at college lacrosse’s top level. The Greyhounds were runners-up in 1990, their only previous appearance in the championship game.
“When I look at my locker room, I’m just so proud of them,” Loyola coach Charley Toomey said at a post-game news conference. “They’ve handled every situation with dignity and class this year.”
Lusby, a graduate student who missed last season because of injury, was the first Greyhound to hoist the championship trophy after the game. Surrounded by teammates, he jogged to the corner of the stadium where the Loyola fans had gathered.
“I just got hot at the right time,” Lusby said at the news conference. “When I had the opportunity to shoot and score, I wanted to make sure I made it count.”
The Terrapins held early leads at 1-0 and again at 3-2, when junior midfielder Kevin Cooper scored with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter. The Greyhounds responded with seven straight goals, the final three from Lusby, and Maryland missed on its 20 shots across the final 40:40 of the game.
Runkel credited the Greyhounds defense for limiting the Terrapins’ opportunities and giving him clear sight lines.
“They gave me shots I wanted to see,” Runkel said. “They’ve been playing well for the past five, six games, and it’s been awesome.”
The two schools, located 40 miles (64.3 kilometers) apart in Maryland, took different routes to the finals. The Greyhounds finished the regular season with one loss and clinched the tournament’s No. 1 seed for the first time since 1999.
Maryland lost five times before the tournament began and entered unseeded. The Terrapins beat third-seeded Johns Hopkins and second-seeded Duke to reach the finals.
Lusby’s 54 goals this season were two more than junior attack Mike Sawyer scored and set a school record. Earlier this month Sawyer, who gave the team a permanent lead yesterday when he broke a 3-3 tie with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter, was named one of five male finalists for the Tewaarton Award, given every year to the sport’s best male and female players.
Maryland, which won the NCAA championship in 1973 and 1975, is winless in its last seven trips to the tournament final.
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