May 24, 2009

Cortland's Hoyt Spurred to Shutdown Performance

by Paul Krome | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Game Blog

Cortland defensemen Cody Hoyt (7) and Matt Noble converge on Gettysburg's Patrick Koeh during Sunday's NCAA Division III championship game at Gillette Stadium.

© Bryce Vickmark

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Cortland senior defenseman Cody Hoyt didn't need any extra incentive to play well in a national championship game matchup against Gettysburg junior midfielder Kyle McGrath, who had torched three NCAA tournament foes for a total of 10 goals entering Sunday's final at Gillette Stadium.

But Hoyt had the extra motivation, and he used it.

Hoyt's grandfather, with whom he was very close, passed away prior to the Red Dragons' May 13 quarterfinal matchup against Western New England. Ed Hoyt did not survive a surgical procedure on his heart back on Long Island, from which Cody hails, and died at age 75.

"We were really close. He knew everything about my lacrosse life," said Cody. "It was hard."

Faced with returning to Babylon, N.Y., and possibly missing the WNEC game, Hoyt, at the urging of his family, stayed in Cortland and played.

"I talked to my family and they said the best thing was to stay here. I would've gone home, but he would've wanted me to stay up here and play. I've just been playing for him ever since," said Hoyt.

And play he has. Not only did Hoyt score a goal in the 6-5 slugfest win over WNEC -- which he dedicated to his late grandfather -- but he was instrumental in shutting down talented midfielders like Middlebury's All-American Mike Stone (just one goal in Cortland's 16-8 semifinal win) and McGrath.

"We knew McGrath was a big threat on their midfield line, so we tried to go shut [off] on him," said Hoyt. "After playing against Middlebury's Stone, who's another great midfielder too, I was ready to go, especially after watching film. I just tried to play my game."

Hoyt's game fueled Cortland's 9-7 win for the NCAA title, putting a fitting bookend to a career that started as a member of the Dragons' 2006 title team. McGrath scored twice in the first half, but only one came directly against Hoyt.

"He jumped [McGrath's] weak side a little bit," said Cortland coach Steve Beville, who won his first national championship in three tries atop the program. "He was so excited to play him that he jumped out on his left side and gave him that goal. But the rest of the game, he put the clamps on and didn't give him an inch."

Indeed, McGrath reversed course on Hoyt on the right side 3:29 into the contest and put the Bullets up 2-1. He added his 12th NCAA tournament goal a few minutes later when he took advantage of a switch that left him guarded by short stick Matt Hoey.

But after that, Hoyt helped take McGrath out of the game. McGrath finished with four shot attempts and two turnovers.

"He's quick with the roll back and going back and forth," said Hoyt. "We wanted to shut him off and deny him the ball as they were working it around."

Hoyt also contributed to a man-down unit that staved off all four Gettysburg extra-man opportunities. The Red Dragons continued their stellar play in that regard, as they had thwarted 87.2 percent of opponent EMOs entering the championship game.

"[Man-down defense is] all about communicating and hustling," said Hoyt. "If you go out, get right back in and pick up the guys on the crease. We've worked well together."

"This year he was a dominant guy in the middle of the field for us," said Beville. "His teammates love him and he gives it back to them. I think he drew strength from the team."

Hoyt, along with senior defenseman Luke Lemon and a few other Dragons, ends a four-year career with two titles and two runner-up distinctions. He's already put the word in his teammates' ears to continue an under-publicized dynasty in the North.

"It feels great to finish on top with a win in my last game," Hoyt said. "I've been telling them that to encourage them to try to get back here."

Somewhere, Ed Hoyt is looking down with a proud smile.


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