May 6, 2006
Baltimore, Md. - Loyola's ball-control offense and swarming defense took defending national champion Johns Hopkins to overtime on Saturday afternoon at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. A broken play in overtime; however, led to Brian Christopher's game-winning goal and left the Greyhounds brokenhearted in their regular season finale.
"Our guys laid it all out on the line today," says Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey. "We kept saying, 15 minutes to the NCAA Tournament, five minutes to the NCAA Tournament, one shot to the NCAA Tournament - we didn't get the result we wanted, but you know what, I think we still deserve a shot."
The Greyhounds finish the regular season with a 6-6 overall record and tied Penn State and UMass for second place in the ECAC with a 5-2 league record. Loyola's overtime loss was its third one-goal defeat this season and second to a Top-15 team.
The game, which saw six lead changes, was possession dominated and Loyola controlled from the start. Forcing five turnovers in the first quarter, the `Hounds took their first lead on Ryan Rabidou's eighth goal of the season and led 2-1 after the first 15-minute stanza.
The Blue Jays responded with two goals in the second quarter and after Paul Rabil's tally only 42 seconds into the second half, led 4-2. Johns Hopkins seemed to have seized the momentum and looked as if it might take control after holding Loyola's top-ranked man-up unit scoreless in their second try. But, an ill-advised pass from goalie Jesse Schwartzman as the penalty expired was picked off by freshman P.T. Ricci, who found senior C.J. Sinisgalli, who converted with 13:21 to play in the third.
The goal sparked a 3-0 Loyola run that included a quick strike from junior Andrew Spack, and ended on an extra-man goal from Sinisgalli with only one second left to play in the third quarter. Sinisgalli's second goal gave the Greyhounds a 5-4 lead heading into the fourth.
Hopkins battled back in the final quarter and took a 6-5 lead with 6:11 left in regulation. Loyola came right back with Spack, who evened the game from 15-yards with a line-drive past Schwartzman. The Greyhounds won the ensuing face-off and held possession for the rest of regulation. Junior Dan Bauers, who had three shots in the final 4:20, took the final shot, which deflected off Hopkins' Andrew Miller as time expired.
In the extra-session, it looked like Loyola might force yet another turnover when junior David Moore checked the ball out of Paul Rabil's stick as he made his move towards goal. Unfortunately for the `Hounds, freshman Brian Christopher was there for the loose ball and poked it past Loyola goalie Michael Fretwell for the win.
The Greyhounds finished the game with 39 shots compared to Hopkins' 22 and forced 17 Blue Jay turnovers. Fretwell ended the day with nine saves while Schwartzman had 14 for Johns Hopkins. The overtime loss is Loyola's first overtime game of the season and its first loss after leading in the fourth quarter.
"This was a season of missed opportunities," says Toomey. "We had our chances at Towson and at Fairfield and today against Johns Hopkins. We missed those opportunities and now have to wait and see if our wins are good enough for the NCAA Tournament."
The NCAA Selection show will air Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNews.