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2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament: Previewing Loyola and Yale

Nearly everything you need to know about Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup between the Greyhounds and the Bulldogs.

NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship - Semifinal Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Good news: There’s lacrosse this weekend.

Good (or bad) news: It’s literally supposed to rain all across the east coast this weekend and in Denver. So that’s a bummer.

Bad news: Next week is the end of the college lacrosse season.

However, four teams will have their seasons end this weekend in either Hempstead or Annapolis in games that should be absolutely entertaining. Any one of these eight teams left can win the whole thing. I just hope we don’t have four huge blowouts and all this talk was for nothing.

Before we begin, let’s see what the bracket looks like:

Only two unseeded teams (Denver and Cornell) made the quarterfinals. Two teams (Albany and Yale) have never won an NCAA national championship (I’m not counting Yale’s 1883 title). Six of the eight teams left have made an appearance in Championship Weekend in the past five years (Albany and Yale haven’t been to one in that span). Just some fun facts to throw out there.

Anyway, I’ll be at all four quarterfinal games in Hempstead and Annapolis. Thanks to everyone that had food recommendations as well. I’ll be sure to document my experiences this weekend in various ways. Expect some probably bad food reviews.

Let’s get to the first of the four games this weekend.

HEMPSTEAD REGION (MAY 19): #6 Loyola Greyhounds vs. #3 Yale Bulldogs (Noon, ESPNU)

It all gets started Saturday at noon with what should be a fun battle between two Tewaaraton finalists at attack.

Tale of the Tape: #6 Loyola Greyhounds vs. #3 Yale Bulldogs

#6 LOYOLA GREYHOUNDS #3 YALE BULLDOGS
#6 LOYOLA GREYHOUNDS #3 YALE BULLDOGS
13-3 Record 14-3
Jay Drapeau (41) Goals leader Ben Reeves (53)
Pat Spencer (58) Assists leader Ben Reeves (43)
Pat Spencer (91) Points leader Ben Reeves (96)
Ryan McNulty (51) Ground balls leader Conor Mackie (168)
Foster Huggins (51) Caused turnovers leader Christopher Keating (23)
Bailey Savio (94-206, 45.6%) Face-off leader Conor Mackie (249-387, 64.3%)
Jacob Stover (8.58 GAA, 51.6%) Goaltender Jack Starr (8.32 GAA, 47.6%)
13.63 (5th) Scoring offense 13.94 (2nd)
7.81 (6th) Assists per game 7.88 (4th)
21.44 (6th) Points per game 21.82 (4th)
8.75 (13th) Scoring defense 8.76 (14th)
27.3% (54th) Man-up offense 48.2% (8th)
67.5% (34th) Man-down defense 65.5% (42nd)
35.9% (4th) Shot percentage 33% (10th)
88.1% (29th) Clearing percentage 87.2% (39th)

Players to Watch

  • Pat Spencer, A, Loyola: The junior has incredible vision. There’s a reason why a lot of people compare him to a basketball point guard (because he also played basketball and might play for Loyola next year). Spencer has 58 assists, while the rest of the team combined has 67. He alone has 46.4% of the team’s total assists, which is wild. This year, he was two outstanding finishers at attack and midfield in Kevin Lindley and Jay Drapeau. On this week’s College Crossecast that discussed the men’s tournament, it was mentioned that Spencer now has two Zach Herreweyers in that all they do is score goals. And to think he was a late recruit still blows my mind.
  • Ben Reeves, A, Yale: Mr. Yale has had a tremendous record-setting career for the Bulldogs. He was the program’s first ever Tewaaraton finalist and shattered Jon Reese’s scoring records. He’s three points shy of 300 in his career. He has a cannon and can turn on the boosters when needed. He also has a good supporting cast of Jackson Morrill, Jack Tigh, Matt Gaudet, and Joey Sessa around him as well to dish the ball when needed.
  • Foster Huggins, D, Loyola: This is his first year as the top defenseman after Jack Carrigan graduated last year. And my god has the Dallas native had an extraordinary season. The senior averages 3.19 caused turnovers per game and leads the nation with 51 caused turnovers, 10 more than Lehigh’s Craig Chick. He’s had to guard against some of the best attackmen this year, such as Michael Kraus and Shack Stanwick. In the Hopkins win back in February, Huggins recorded an insane seven caused turnovers. If he can do that against Reeves, this game probably will be lopsided.
  • Chris Fake, D, Yale: What does the freshman defenseman have in common with the three other players mentioned? They’re all Inside Lacrosse First Team All-Americans. I’ve loved Fake’s play this season and actually asked if he was an elite defenseman already. He wasn’t supposed to start the season, but with Aidan Hynes missing the early portion of the season, Fake was thrown right in and he did fine. Even though Christopher Keating leads the defense in caused turnovers and ground balls, Fake has been assigned the opponent’s top guys, such as Jeff Teat and Connor Fields/Tehoka Nanticoke near the end of the season. He’s got a huge challenge on his hands with Spencer’s vision.

Things to Watch

Loyola’s transition game could sneak in as a deciding factor in this game. A greyhound can run as fast as 43 miles per hour. So they know a few things about running fast and changing tempos. Guys like Mike Orefice, Ryan McNulty, Brian Begley, and Jared Mintzlaff have the ability to go coast-to-coast and convert a strong defensive effort into a quality scoring opportunity. Expect at least a goal from their defensive unit in this game.

But to match Loyola’s fast transition is a very aggressive Yale ride. It can work and it can also not work. When it works, it’s very costly for the other team and leads to quick opportunities for Reeves or Morrill to get a goal. When it doesn’t, like Jake Pulver’s pole goal two weeks ago, it doesn’t give Jack Starr a ton of time to get ready for pending offense.

As Paul Carcaterra said on the Cornell-Syracuse broadcast Sunday night, “speed kills.” Speed could kill a strong asset of Yale lacrosse if it goes to plan.

History

Loyola and Yale have met three times, with the Greyhounds taking all three games. Their most recent was back in 2004, when the Greyhounds beat the Bulldogs 12-8. Their most-talked about meeting came in the 1990 NCAA Semifinals at Rutgers Stadium. Loyola won in double overtime, 14-13, with current Greyhounds head coach Charley Toomey in goal.

Prediction

According to Lax Vegas Lines, Yale is a one-goal favorite over the Greyhounds. The over/under for goals is 24.5.

Loyola has a little more experience than Yale in terms of making it this year in the tournament. Spencer was only a freshman when he lost in the NCAA semifinals to UNC. It’s more than anyone on Yale has. Spencer has an okay day, Mackie dominates at the face-off X, but Loyola’s defense and transition prove to be the difference makers.

Pick: Loyola 14, Yale 12.

For all our coverage this weekend, be sure to follow College Crosse on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And be sure to follow me on Twitter as well for my journeys this weekend!