May 3, 2014
BALTIMORE - Loyola University Maryland men's lacrosse had a 19-ground ball advantage and won 17-of-26 faceoffs, and the top-ranked Greyhounds closed their regular-season with a 13-10 win over No. 6 Johns Hopkins University in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,000 at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Graham Savio matched his career-high with 17 faceoff wins, and he set a new best with 12 ground balls against a Blue Jays unit that was ranked eighth nationally with a 60.1 percent success rate this season on restarts.
Savio won two of the first three faceoffs in the game, but Johns Hopkins (10-4 overall) jumped out to a 3-0 lead 4:02 in as Rob Guida scored twice off the run and Brandon Benn added a transition goal.
Twenty-four seconds after Guida's second goal made it 3-0, Brian Sherlock scored on a high bouncer from 10-plus yards, and he drew a flag for a Blue Jays late hit, giving Loyola (15-1) another possession, this one a man up.
Guida responded for the Blue Jays, this time rolling the crease for his third goal of the game at 8:19, a score that would be the last of the first quarter for either team. The hat trick was the second of the senior's career, both coming against the Greyhounds after he accomplished the feat in 2012.
Nikko Pontrello broke a stretch of more than nine minutes without a goal by either team when he stepped back off a check after getting topside on the left to score at 13:34 in the second quarter. Pat Laconi then tied the game for Loyola at 10:49, taking a short-stick defender behind the crease and rolling to the goal for this ninth of the year.
Jeff Chase put the Greyhounds in front for the first time with a right-to-left sweep at 8:49, but Connor Reed got one back for the Blue Jays at 6:57, knotting the score at 6-6. It was Chase again on the run at 6:26, as he got to the middle and scored his second on a high-to-low shot.
Benn scored his second at 4:40 off a Reed assist to tie the game for the third time, but Loyola used a fortuitous roll to take the lead back at 3:47.
Sherlock took a Ward pass and shot from the right side, but Johns Hopkins goalkeeper Eric Schneider got a stick on it only to see it sneak past him. The ball took one bounce over the goal line before back-spinning out like a golf shot, but it put Loyola in front for what would be the rest of the game.
Just four seconds of game clock later, Savio won a faceoff cleanly, drove into the middle of the box and scored the first goal of his collegiate career to push Loyola up two, 8-6. The goals by Sherlock and Savio tied an NCAA Division I record for fastest goals by players on the same team, matching the four-second differential that Virginia Military Institute's Russell East and Stephen Robarge produced in a March 31, 2012, game against Marist College.
Loyola took the 8-6 advantage into the locker room at halftime, and it extended that lead in the first four minutes of the third quarter.
Ward shot a pass through traffic to Brian Schultz on the low right side, and Schultz beat Schneider five-hole for his first of the game at 13:21. More than two minutes later, on an extra-man opportunity, Sawyer used an extra pass to find Pontrello on the low left side, and Pontrello buried his second of the afternoon to give Loyola a four-goal cushion, 10-6.
The Blue Jays, however, quickly tighetened up the score, as Ryan Brown scored two-straight. The first came on extra-man off a Guida assist, and his second from Wells Stanwick at 9:35 made it 10-8 Greyhounds.
Loyola controlled possession over the next five minutes, but the Greyhounds couldn't get another goal until Pontrello registered his third with a spin and nearly no look shot from the right side at 4:55.
Schultz then tallied back-to-back goals at 11:39 and 10:19 in the fourth quarter, and Loyola led 13-8. Brown scored another extra-man goal at 7:04, and Holden Cattoni notched an unassisted goal at 2:30, but the Blue Jays could not draw closer than three.
Pontrello, Schultz, Guida and Brown each finished with three goals for their respective teams, and Sherlock and Chase each scored twice for Loyola. Ward recorded a game-high four assists, and he moved into second-place in school single-season points at the Division I level with 69. He is now two behind his former teammate Eric Lusby who had 71 points in 2012.
With three goals, Pontrello became he fourth player in school Division I history to score 50 goals in a season, joining Lusby (54, 2012), Mike Sawyer (52, 2012) and Tim Goettelmann (50, 2000).
In addition to Savio's 12, Ward had five ground balls, and Laconi, Pontrello, Sherlock, Joe Fletcher, Pat Frazier, and Jason Crane each had four. Laconi also finished with four caused turnovers, one off his career-high.
The Greyhounds did, however, commit a season-high 21 turnovers.
The Greyhounds will find out their NCAA Championships opponent, date and location tomorrow night during the Selection Show at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.