What if I told you that a team could lose the best player in the country, who also happens to be the best player in the program’s history and be just fine? Well, welcome to the post-Pat Spencer Loyola because the Greyhounds are going to have to make that statement come true some way or another and they have the talent to do so.
Whether he decides to play pro lacrosse in either the PLL, MLL, or take a fifth year and play college basketball, one thing is for certain, Pat Spencer’s career at Loyola is coming to an end. Throughout his four years at Loyola Spencer has created much hype and has been one of the best, if not the best player in the country. He is a generational talent and the lacrosse world can’t wait to see him play at the next level, whenever that may be.
Pat Spencer will always be part of Loyola lacrosse history and college lacrosse history in general. But while he will be remembered for his greatness, he leaves a program that has relied heavily on him for the past four years. Many speculate how good the Greyhounds will be in the next few years as head coach Charlie Toomey and the rest of the Greyhounds program adjust to life without Pat Spencer.
While many casual fans would look at the loss of Spencer as a monumental loss that will take years to overcome, diehard Loyola fans and in-tune lacrosse fans know what’s in the pipeline at Loyola. The Greyhounds may be losing Spencer and eleven other seniors, including goalie Jacob Stover and midfielder Alex McGovern but the Greyhounds will still be a top team in the Patriot League and might not even take as big of a dip as some suggest they will. They could really surprise some doubters in 2020 for sure.
For starters, the Greyhounds are expected to return three of their top five point scorers in sophomore attackmen Kevin Lindley and Aidan Olmstead and freshman midfielder Chase Scanlan. They also have a slew of other guys that will be returning and could make an impact on the offensive end as well. These guys have all had at least one year to learn the system and play along Pat Spencer. That goes a long way in terms of player development and how this offense will look in the future. The Pat Spencer effect will still be on that field but in a different form.
Just looking at numbers, the offense won’t be bad at all. With one wee still go in the regular season Kevin Lindley is the second leading point scorer on the team with 57 points (53G,4A) while Chase Scanlan has 50 points (37G,13A) and Aidan Olmstead has tallied 34 points (17G,17A). While Pat Spencer tops the rest with 90 points (40G,50A) so far this season, the other guys around him can ball as well and are pretty good.
Yes, Spencer has astronomical numbers compared to the rest of the Loyola offense, but what would you expect? With Spencer gone next year, those secondary options will come to the forefront even more and if what we have seen this year is any indication of the Future, they should be pretty solid right off the bat.
Now the one area where Loyola will likely struggle next year is on the defensive end. Senior Jacob Stover has done a lot for them this year and with not much experience in front of him, he is left on an island a lot. Stover graduates with Spencer and it will be an adjustment for sure. While Loyola is set to bring in 4-star goalie Colton Tietelbaum from Locust Valley (N.Y.) the close defense will still be pretty much the same, and while they will be a year older it could be a tough early adjustment period if they do indeed start a freshman in cage. If they decide to go with Sam Shafer who was the backup this year, then things might go a little smoother, but I still have worries.
Going back to the offense, Coach Toomey and his staff have been hitting home runs on the recruiting circuit lately. Most recently they flipped 4-star Loyola Academy (Ill) midfielder Najee Taylor who had been committed to Notre Dame since 2016, prior to the rules change. The Greyhounds also have 4-star Valor Christian (Colo.) midfielder Eric Pacheco committed as well. At the attack position, 4-star Hill Academy (Ont.) attackman Adam Poitras and 4-star Detroit Central Catholic attackman Joey Kamish are both committed as well.
With the skill-set that all of those guys possess, we could see one or all of them make an impact day one at Loyola. Obviously, Taylor and Pacheco could both start at midfield as freshman, but that attack spot will be interesting. There could be a competition in fall and even in the early spring between Kamish and Poitras for who gets that third attack spot. While these guys coming in the 2019 class will be able to contribute, you have to expect that there will be some growing pains with an offense that is younger than we have seen from Loyola in past years.
If you want to go even further and see what the real future for Loyola is then go check out the 2020’s they currently have committed. While nothing is official until a NLI is signed, there are some studs in that class as well. 4-star Christ School (N.C.) attackman Davis Lindsey is very impressive when I’ve seen him on film and the same goes for the two 4-star midfielders they have committed in Brewster Academy (N.H.) Brett Daubert and St. Paul’s (Md.) Seth Higgins.
Loyola may be losing Pat Spencer at the conclusion of this season but head coach Charlie Toomey has built this program for the future and continues to do so. The Greyhounds have a stacked offensive lineup already at Loyola and will have more studs coming in during the fall. The Loyola offense will never be as perfect ever again without Pat Spencer but they can certainly be good and even great.
Time will tell how the Greyhounds shake out the next few years, but I am not concerned that much about the offense as I am about the defense. That is where Loyola fans should be looking for question marks and improvements that can be made over the next few years as they get a new goalie and this young crop of long poles grown and develop.