April 14, 2012
DENVER - Loyola University Maryland remained one of two unbeaten teams in NCAA Division I men's lacrosse, as the fourth-ranked Greyhounds scored five of the game's last six goals to defeat No. 8/10 Denver University, 12-8, on Saturday night at Peter Barton Stadium.
With the win, the Greyhounds (11-0 overall, 5-0 ECAC) clinched at least a share of the ECAC Lacrosse League regular-season crown. The Greyhounds, by virtue of any possible tiebreakers, also clinched the No. 1 seed in the May 2-4 ECAC Championships that will be held at the same venue as tonight's game in Denver.
"I was so proud of how our guys played so hard for 60 minutes," Head Coach Charley Toomey said. "We didn't play the perfect game, but we played well enough. I thought that our guys defended every possession hard against some excellent offensive players."
The host Pioneers (7-4, 3-2) took their only lead of the game when Eric Adamson capped a three-goal Denver run with a tally at 8:24 in the third quarter, but the Greyhounds would come back strong.
Justin Ward added a goal with three ticks left on the third-quarter clock before Lusby scored his second in the run with 7:15 left in regulation, giving the Greyhounds an 11-8 advantage.
Denver snapped a 21-minute, 30-second scoreless streak when Jeremy Noble pulled the Pioneers back within a pair, 11-9, with 1:54 remaining.
Mike Sawyer netted his third on the game on an extra-man opportunity with 21 seconds left, icing the game for the Greyhounds.
Nine different Loyola players scored in the game, led by Sawyer's three and Lusby's two.
Jeremy Law led the Pioneers with three goals, and Alex Demopoulos had two goals and two assists.
Mark Matthews, who entered the game with a team-leading 30 goals - second in the ECAC behind Sawyer - was held without a goal, snapping his 39-game streak of at least one goal. The streak had been the second-longest nationally. Reid Acton had primary marking responsibilities on Matthews.
"That is a credit to Reid and his temamates to hold Matthews without a goal because of what an immense talent he is," Toomey said.
Jack Runkel made eight saves in goal for the Loyola, which has held all of its 2012 opponents to fewer than 10 goals.
Loyola took a 2-0 lead 6:26 into the game as Davis Butts and Pat Byrnes each scored from the midfield before the Pioneers got on the board at 8:09 when Cameron Flint tallied a goal off a Chase Carraro pass.
The Greyhounds got one back quickly after Scott Ratliff caused a turnover and Josh Hawkins picked up the ground ball in the Pioneers' offensive end. Loyola cleared, and Ratliff scored his fifth goal of the year in an unsettled situation to make it 3-1 Loyola with 7:04 to go in the first.
Eric Law pulled Denver back within a goal at 5:59, but Sean O'Sullivan scored on a Butts assist to make push Loyola back up a pair 2:06 before the end of the first stanza.
The Pioneers, who won 21-of-25 face-offs, won the draw to start the second quarter, but Pat Laconi picked up a ground ball off a Carraro turnover, and the Greyhounds scored again in transition.
Ratliff brought the ball into the offensive zone and fed Sawyer for a goal just 21 seconds into the frame, making it 5-2 Loyola.
Denver would score two goals quickly, making it 5-4 Loyola when Demopoulos followed Wes Berg's goal with his first of the game at 12:30.
The Pioneers tied it up for the first time just over six minutes later when Noble tallied his first of the contest at 6:13, making it 5-5.
Denver won the ensuing face-off, but two shots went off cage for the Pioneers, and Runkel saved Denver's third effort, a Matthews attempt. A successful clear then led to Sawyer scored one at the end of a transition effort by Loyola, giving the Greyhounds a 6-5 lead at 4:09 that they would carry into halftime.
Loyola got the ball to start the third quarter, but Denver goalkeeper Ryan LaPlante made three quick saves before the Greyhounds went on the extra-man following a slashing call.
O'Sullivan had a shot that went wide, and the Pioneers picked up the ground ball, but Dylan Grimm caused a turnover on the clear, and after Butts picked up the ground ball, Ward fed Patrick Fanshaw for an extra-man goal at 13:52.
Denver got its deficit back to one almost immediately when Carraro won the face-off, and Demopoulos scored 14 seconds later off a Flint assist.
The goal started a 3-0 Pioneers run that saw Noble score on a Matthews assist in an extra-man situation before Adamson capped it with his go-ahead goal at 8:24 in the third.
Denver would lead for just 2:39, however, as Butts got the ground ball for Loyola on the face-off, and after three shots that did not find the net, Pontrello's diving goal tied the game at 8-8.
"We were really happy with our ability to run between the lines," Toomey said. "Our Rope unit was tremendous with the combination of (Kyle) Duffy, Scott Ratliff, Josh Hawkins and (Pat) Laconi. We have become accustomed to getting some goals in transition this season, and we were able to do that tonight."
Loyola had a season-low seven turnovers in the game, while Denver committed 15.
"To play as fast as we did and only have seven turnovers really speaks to how our guys kept their composure," Toomey added. "We had a great offensive effort."
The Greyhounds' win also snapped Denver's 10-game winning streak, which with Johns Hopkins losing to Maryland earlier in the day at Homewood Field, was the second-longest in the nation for a brief time.
Loyola's 11-0 start is its best since 1999 when the Greyhounds went 12-0 in the regular season.
The Greyhounds conclude ECAC regular-season action on Saturday, April 21, when they travel to Geneva, N.Y., to face Hobart College.