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On May 28 of last year, Romar Dennis of St. Mary’s Ryken sat with his former youth-team lacrosse coach, Lenny Casalino, and watched as the Loyola University (Md.) Greyhounds won the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse national championship title.

As many other lacrosse players dreamed of playing with either Loyola or its opponent in the title game, the University of Maryland at College Park, Dennis was, in fact, soon to be with one of the contending teams.

After verbally committing to Loyola in October 2011, Dennis made it official in September 2012 when he signed his letter of intent to play lacrosse for the 2012 national champion Greyhounds.

“It feels like all of the time and all of the work I put in finally paid off because I get to play at the highest level,” Dennis said. “It feels good to make my parents proud.”

Casalino, a Maryland lacrosse alum, coached Dennis from the fourth- through eighth-grades, and it is the former Terps lacrosse player that Dennis credits for putting a lacrosse stick in his hands.

“He really made me take lacrosse seriously,” Dennis said. “He made me get interested in it and become competitive with it. He is a very competitive person, and he just wanted to win and win everything and have fun doing it. He really made me love the sport.”

Watching the national title game featuring Dennis’ future school competing against the school that made the coach that ultimately made Dennis, the senior added, “It was a little tough to watch with him. I didn’t really say much, and he really didn’t say much, but I was really happy every time we scored. I just wanted to see a good game.”

The national title run was a bit of a surprise to the 6-foot-5 Ryken midfielder, as the team was ranked No. 21 nationally when he verbally committed, but the championship run further solidified his choice in his future school.

“That just made it seem like the national championship goal is really real,” Dennis said. “That they were a contender for the championship really surprised me. But it just made it all better, made me feel more comfortable.”

Dennis admitted that he wanted to attend an Atlantic Coast Conference school and thought he might have had his way in when Maryland held interest, but “Maryland lost interest.”

And once that happened, it came down to Hofstra University (N.Y.) and Loyola.

“I just felt that Loyola was a much better fit,” Dennis said. “I was looking for a school that wasn’t too big but a school that I could feel comfortable at. Loyola is a great team and I really like the coaches and players and it just seemed like a great fit.”

After first meeting the Loyola players and coaches in the summer 2011, the summer before his junior year, Dennis went on his official visit earlier this year and was able to dive into deeper conversation with the players and coaching staff.

“They liked that I could play defense and offense,” Dennis stated. “They liked my athleticism and just felt that my athleticism could make a big difference at the next level.”

Dennis added that he is a future business major with an undecided concentration but likes the options and possible post-graduate opportunities that Loyola will present him with.

He and the Knights kicked off the 2013 season with a 12-7 victory over Good Counsel on Saturday night in the home and season opener for Ryken.

That 1-0 start is just a small step on the road to what Dennis and company hope is a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship.

“I really want to win the WCAC championship and go out with a big bang,” Dennis said. “I just want to make sure my team goes all the way and wins it.”

Dennis was named to the 2012 All-County first team and 2012 All-WCAC second team as a junior.

jmccray@somdnews.com