Feb. 28, 2009
State College, Pa. - Attackmen Cooper MacDonnell and Shane Koppens both scored three goals apiece and the No. 16 Loyola men's lacrosse team opened a successful defense of its ECAC title with an 8-7 victory over Penn State on Saturday in the team's conference opener at a chilly Bigler Field.
The victory pushes Loyola (2-1, 1-0 ECAC) to a perfect 4-0 against the Nittany Lions (0-3, 0-1 ECAC) in season openers since 2006.
A goal by Penn State's Rob Forster trimmed an 8-6 Loyola lead to one with just 37 seconds remaining in the fourth period. But Loyola won the ensuing face-off and earned an extra-man opportunity on a late slashing call, giving the Greyhounds' the ball and the chance to run out the clock for the victory.
"We knew that it was going to be a tough inter-conference game and that's exactly how it played out today," said Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey. "Our attack unit played extremely well and our face-off unit really helped us earn some extra possessions that we needed."
With an offense again showing its quick strike capabilities and a shutout first half from its defense, Loyola raced to a 3-0 advantage at intermission, all of the goals coming in the first period.
Koppens, playing in his season debut, provided a spark in his return after sitting out the first two games of the year. The 2008 ECAC Offensive Player of the Year put Loyola on the board just 1:45 into the game with an unassisted putaway.
MacDonnell, Loyola's leading goal-scorer from a year ago, doubled the lead just four mintues later with a one-timer off a Taylor Ebsary feed from the left side of the crease. With three minutes left in the first, MacDonnell, standing behind the Penn State cage, beat his defender to the right side of the crease and fired a shot into the upper-left of the net for his second goal of the afternoon, giving Loyola a three-goal cushion.
Throughout the first half, the Greyhounds' defense held strong, recording their first blanking of an opponent in a half thus far in this early season. Loyola allowed just 12 shots in the initial half, with goalie Jake Hagelin making five saves, including a nice pickup in the second quarter that thwarted a Penn State man-up opportunity.
"Our defense played hard and disciplined in the first half," said Toomey. "Penn State had some good opportunities, but we did a great job of limiting their success."
Penn State's Colton Vosburgh trimmed the Loyola lead to 3-1 with an unassisted goal 1:33 into the third period.
Loyola's Jake Willcox would quickly answer, though, with an unassisted putaway 31 seconds later. The senior midfielder moved to the right side of the crease and fired a shot past goalie Drew Adams.
A pair of goals by Penn State's Chris Hogan trimmed the Loyola lead to 5-3 just two minutes into the fourth.
Sandwiched around a Jack Forster goal, MacDonnell scored his third of the afternoon and Koppens found the net with an assist from Matt Langan, and Loyola stretched its lead back to three, 7-4, with 6:25 remaining.
The Nittany Lions, though, rallied with a goal from Will Donley and Hogan scored his third of the day to trim Loyola's lead to one, 7-6, with 4:36 remaining.
But Koppens would find the net for the hat-trick--the fifth of his Loyola career--to give Loyola a crucial two-goal cushion with 3:55 left, which proved to be the final difference in the game.
The Greyhounds controlled the face-off X this afternoon, with John Schiavone winning 11-of-19 draws. Hagelin made 10 saves in the cage for Loyola.
Steve Layne and Ebsary both collected team-highs of four groundballs each. Loyola won the groundball battle, 32-26, and outshot Penn State, 37-32.
Loyola continues life on the road, as it travels to Siena on Tuesday for a 1 p.m. start.