March 3, 2007
State College, Pa. - Shane Koppens drove hard to the cage, dived through the air, and with 4.4 seconds left in regulation gave Loyola a 10-9 win over ECAC rival Penn State. The goal, which represented Loyola's first lead of the afternoon, has the Greyhounds off to a 1-0 start in league play.
"I kept the ball close to me because their defenders were slashing hard," says Koppens. "I dove because I felt someone behind me and I just had to score."
Loyola, which scored eight goals in the final 15:35, erased a five-goal second-half deficit behind three goals from senior Dan Bauers, three goals from senior Ryan Rabidou and two goals and three assists from Koppens.
"I'm very proud of the way our guys battled back today," says Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey. "This was a gut check and we passed."
Penn State jumped out front early, scoring in the third minute of play to take a 1-0 lead. The Nittany Lions scored four first quarter goals and led 4-0 when Bauers got Loyola on the board with a bullet at 13:16 of the second quarter.
An answer from Penn State increased the margin to four, but the Greyhound defense was able to adjust to the indoor conditions and successfully cut off attack lanes to keep the game within reach.
Just before the intermission, senior Ryan Rabidou took a feed from Koppens and scored to pull Loyola within three. Rabidou's goal came with 35 seconds remaining the second quarter, and despite the perceived momentum going into the break, PSU scored with 17 ticks on the clock to keep a four-goal cushion at the half.
A defensive-oriented third quarter in which each team scored in the final 140 seconds had the Greyhounds trailing 7-3 going into the final 15 minutes of play. An in-opportune illegal body checking penalty on Bauers to open the fourth quarter, however, put Penn State in position to gain control with its first man-up opportunity of the game.
Loyola, however, seized the opportunity and stunned the Nittany Lions with a pair of man-down goals to cut the lead to 7-5. The first goal was set up by junior Paul Richards and scored by Ryan Rabidou. The second goal, also set up by Richards, was scored by Koppens with 13:58 on the fourth quarter clock.
Penn State made it an 8-5 game with 12 minutes left in regulation, but Ryan Rabidou's third goal of the day sparked a 3-0 Loyola run that included a goal from Bauers at 7:79 and a goal from Richards at 6:16 that evened the score at 8-8.
Once again, the Nittany Lions went ahead, this time with 3:40 left in regulation. With the lead and possession, Penn State called a timeout with 1:05 left on the clock. A big defensive stop and a groundball from senior Steven Hess put the `Hounds in transition. Bauers scored the equalizer with 22 seconds left and Koppens finished off the game with his last-second heroics.
Goalie Connor Locke, who didn't start, but played the final 49 minutes, finished with four saves in a challenging Holuba Hall environment.
"It's very hard to see the ball inside," says Locke. "We're not used to an orange ball and when the light hits it, there's a shadow that makes it very dark."
Locke, who preserved the win from the bench, earned his first college victory in the process.
"When you come off the bench, you have to always be prepared to play," says Locke. "I always prepare for games like I'm the starter and today it paid off."
The Greyhounds, who improve to 1-2 overall, are 1-0 in the ECAC. Loyola picked up a season-high 46 groundballs and took 35 shots in the win.
Next up for Loyola is Duke. The Greyhounds face the Blue Devils in a re-match of last season's First-Four game in San Diego. The two teams return to Southern California for a Saturday night tilt slated for a 9:30 p.m. EST face-off.