FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The two best offensive players in the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament entering the championship game on Memorial Day were Loyola (Md.) fifth-year senior Eric Lusby and Maryland fifth-year senior Drew Snider.
And it was Lusby who walked away with the record for most goals in a tournament and, more important, with an NCAA championship.
Lusby finished with four goals as the top-seeded Greyhounds defeated unseeded Maryland, 9-3, before 30,816 at Gillette Stadium on Monday.
The national title was the first in Division I in any sport for Loyola (18-1). The men’s soccer team won the Division II national title in 1976.
Lusby, a Severna Park High grad and 2007 All-Met, was a big reason for the milestone.
In the championship weekend, the Greyhounds scored 16 goals. Nine came from Lusby. He finished with a record 17 goals in the tournament.
“I just got hot at the right time,” Lusby said. “I knew going into the tournament my shot was a little off. . . . When I had the opportunity to shoot and score, I wanted to make sure I made it count.”
Snider, meantime, endured a frustrating day. He entered the title game having shot 10 for 16 (62 percent) in the tournament.
By the time Snider took his first shot on Monday, 57 minutes 41 seconds had elapsed and the Greyhounds had their 9-3 lead. Junior longstick midfielder Scott Ratliff drew the assignment to guard Snider.
Of Snider’s 17 possessions in the game, Ratliff was in for at least 15. Snider finished without a goal or an assist and took just two shots.
“They did a great job on the defensive end making us a little uncomfortable,” Snider said.
The matchup was emblematic of a long day for Maryland’s offense. The Terrapins (12-6) had shot 55 percent in a 16-10 victory over Duke in the semifinals on Saturday.
On Monday, they were 3 for 29 (10.3 percent). A goal by junior Kevin Cooper gave the Terrapins a 3-2 lead with 10:40 left in the first half.
It was their last goal. The scoreless streak lasted 40:40 and featured 18 possessions and 20 missed shots.
Loyola won crucial matchups, with sophomore defender Joe Fletcher holding junior Owen Blye without a point or a shot.
“We got away from what got us here,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said. “Part of that was us but part of that, you’ve got to give credit to Loyola. . . . Offensively, I think it shows we still have a ways to go. I didn’t expect us to score 16 goals on Saturday and I didn’t expect us to score three goals today.”
The three goals were the fewest for a team in the national title game. The previous low came in Duke’s 6-5 overtime win over Notre Dame in 2010.
On Monday, the title game was delicately balanced at halftime. Maryland had taken 10 shots in the first half and had turned the ball over eight times. Yet Maryland’s deficit was 5-3.
The Greyhounds opened the third quarter with a possession that lasted 2:20 and featured five shots. Lusby took three; junior Mike Sawyer, a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy for the top player in college lacrosse, took one; and junior midfielder Sean O’Sullivan also took one.
But sophomore goalie Niko Amato made three saves to keep the Terrapins close.
When Maryland got the ball, a shot by junior John Haus was saved by sophomore goalie Jack Runkel.
And the Greyhounds put the game away on the ensuing possession, after sophomore Justin Ward beat freshman Goran Murray and scored for a 6-3 lead with 10:12 remaining in the third quarter.
“It was probably our worst game,” Amato said. At halftime “we just said we didn’t play like Terps. We weren’t energetic. We tried to come out loose [in the second half] and get back to how we were playing Saturday and we just didn’t have it.”
Loyola’s starting defensive midfield — Ratliff and shortsticks Josh Hawkins, a junior, and Pat Laconi, a sophomore — held Maryland’s starting midfield to 1-for-19 shooting, with five turnovers.
“We were very prepared,” Hawkins said. “We knew they had run a [1-4-1] set against Duke on Saturday and we knew they were going to run it against us. . . . Ratliff buckled in and took [Snider’s] strength away.”
Maryland fell short in the title game for the second consecutive season. It has not won a men’s lacrosse national title since 1975. Since then, it has lost in the title game in 1976, 1979, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2011 and 2012.
The appearance in this year’s title game was a little bit of a surprise. Maryland had lost five starters, 17 seniors and 22 players overall from the team that lost to Virginia, 9-7, in the championship game last year in Baltimore.
But the silent locker room and postgame tears from several players meant that the surprise appearance was of little consolation.
A scary moment occurred midway through the fourth quarter. Maryland junior Jesse Bernhardt, a second-team all-American longstick midfielder, was knocked unconscious following a pick set by Hawkins.
Bernhardt regained consciousness and was diagnosed with a mild concussion; he left the game and did not return.
The Terrapins thus were faced with trying to pressure the ball and regain possession without their best defender. And Loyola’s final two goals came from Lusby and against a defense that featured its third-string longstick midfielder.
Bernhardt finished with one goal and three groundballs and freshman Charlie Raffa won 7 of 9 faceoffs.
But the day clearly belonged to Loyola. The school with an undergraduate enrollment of roughly 3,800 entered the championship weekend with Notre Dame and two ACC programs.
It left it with a national title for the players and coaches, three of whom played at the school. Coach Charley Toomey was the starting goalie for Loyola when it lost in its only previous NCAA title appearance to Syracuse, 21-9, in 1990.
“I thought Saturday [a 7-5 semifinal win over Notre Dame] was a pretty cool day for the Greyhounds,” Toomey said. “Today is special.”