ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Jack Ray bounced a shot off the far post with 37.7 seconds left to give the U.S. Naval Academy a 10-9 Patriot League victory on Saturday afternoon, denying Loyola University Maryland a furious second-half comeback.
The Greyhounds rallied from a 7-2 halftime hole to tie the game three times and take a fourth-quarter lead, but Ray’s lone goal of the game proved the winner.
Loyola (4-3 overall, 2-1 Patriot League) trailed 7-2 when Casey Rees scored on an extra-man possession for the Midshipmen (4-2, 2-1) 29.2 before the end of the first half. Rees’ goal, one of his career-high five in the game, capped a stretch where Navy outscored the Greyhounds, 6-1.
The Greyhounds, however, came out strong in the second half and scored the third quarter’s first goal 4:02 into the frame. John Duffy caught a Pat Spencer feed and scored his first collegiate goal at 10:58.
Neither Loyola, nor Navy would score for more than 10 minutes, but the Greyhounds controlled possession much more efficiently than they did in the second half.
The Midshipmen were whistled for an unnecessary roughness penalty with just over two minutes to play in the quarter, sending Loyola on extra-man for the first time in the game. Zach Herreweyers converted after catching a Spencer pass from point to score at the 1:45 mark.
That goal ignited a Loyola run to close the quarter. With Graham Savio winning faceoffs, the Greyhounds scored three more times before the stanza ended.
Brian Sherlock got free from a double-team with the help of a screen inside of 10 yards and scored his second of the game on the move at 1:14, and he then sent a pass to Tyler Albrecht for a 12-yard goal with 35.8 seconds on the clock.
Savio then won the faceoff as Ryan Fournier picked up the ground ball, and Spencer took the ball on the left-side wing. He dodged and redodged a short-stick defender and got to the crease to tie the game 14 seconds before the third quarter’s expiration.
Rees tallied his fourth of the game on a stepdown to begin the scoring in the fourth, tallying one at 13:43 to put Navy back in front, 8-7, but Zack Sirico evened it for the Greyhounds. Sirico drove topside from behind the crease to score unassisted at 10:35, knotting the score at 8-8.
The Greyhounds then took their first lead of the game at 6:11 when Jared Mintzlaff stayed on after a transition run and beat his defender from the left side to score his second in as many games.
Navy, however, had the answer as Keena drew a slide at goal-line and shot a pass to Rees for his fifth goal of the game. That score drew the teams even at 9-9 with 3:29 to play.
Fournier had another ground ball off the Savio faceoff win, and Loyola took possession. An errant pass, however, gave the ball back to Navy with less than three minutes left in regulation. The Midshipmen, however, were offsides on the clear, and Loyola had another opportunity.
Navy goalkeeper John Connors had a kick save on a Romar Dennis shot at 2:21, and he then stopped off his line to stop a Sherlock runner inside of two minutes.
The Midshipmen cleared the ball after his second save, and Ray ended up with the ball in his stick behind the goal. He drove hard on the crease and bounced a shot off the far post and in to put Navy on top with less than 40 seconds to play. The Midshipmen then won the ensuing faceoff and ran out the clock for the win.
The game’s story was told statistically, as well. Navy outshot Loyola, 16-10, in the first half, the Greyhounds had a 25-8 advantage in the second, 17-1 in the third-quarter alone.
Navy also posted 14 ground balls before halftime, and Loyola only had seven. The Greyhounds then picked up 16 to Navy’s 12 after the break.
Loyola also won 8-of-12 faceoffs in the second half after being outdone in nine of 11 in the first two quarters.
The Greyhounds have a quick turnaround before returning to action on Wednesday, March 23, when they travel to Washington, D.C., to face Georgetown University at 3 o’clock.