May 10, 2008
Durham, N.C. - Playing in their second straight NCAA Tournament, Loyola's men's lacrosse team challenged top-seeded Duke in first-round play on Saturday afternoon in Durham, N.C. The Blue Devils, however, proved worthy of their No. 1 ranking and played like a veteran team en route to a 12-7 win over the Greyhounds.
"Duke is an excellent team," said Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey. "I thought we played well for two of the four quarters, but my hat goes off to Duke because they played a great game."
Loyola jumped out front in the opening minute of play. Duke won the opening face-off, but a great save from freshman goalkeeper Jake Hagelin started the transition offense for the `Hounds. Junior Jimmy Daly finished the opportunity with a low-liner past Blue Devil keeper Dan Loftus.
Senior Shane Koppens nearly doubled that advantage at the 8:33 mark of the first quarter. Koppens, who beat his man, had a wide-open look at the cage and grazed the crossbar with a rising line-drive.
Only minutes later, Koppens made the extra pass in transition and found Collin Finnerty on the wing. Finnerty wound up and fired another near miss, keeping the momentum with Loyola. And although the first-quarter shutout was lost when Duke senior Matt Danowski evened the score with only 15 ticks on the clock, the Greyhounds came right back with their bread and butter.
Sophomore Cooper MacDonnell drew isolation coverage from Duke's Ryan McFadyen and swung around the goal to beat Lofus up high as the second quarter got underway. For MacDonnell, it was his team-leading 22nd goal of the season, but more importantly it gave Loyola a 2-1 lead on top-seeded Duke.
The momentum, however, would swing the way of the Blue Devils with five unanswered goals to close the half. Duke led 6-2 at the break and built that lead to 8-2 before Finnerty notched his 14th goal of the season.
Finnerty scored both of Loyola's goals in the third quarter and ended the day with three goals for the Greyhounds. In addition to Daly's and MacDonnell's first-half goals, senior Paul Richards and junior Jake Willcox added fourth quarter scores to give Loyola seven goals on the day.
"It was a great atmosphere," said Finnerty. "I am still friends with a lot of the Duke guys - and it felt great to score those goals and have a good game down here."
Hagelin, who ended the game with 13 saves, became Loyola's first true freshman goalkeeper to start an NCAA Tournament game since All-American Tim McGeeney started in the cage for the `Hounds in their 1992 first-round game with Brown.
"Jake has played great all year," added Coach Toomey. "He played a big role in our success this season and played like a veteran today."
Danowski, who had seven points in Duke's winning effort, became the NCAA's all-time leading scorer during the second quarter of play. His 347 career points overtook Joe Vasta - who held the career points record with 343 points at Air Force. Danowski and the Blue Devils will play in the NCAA Quarterfinals next weekend at Cornell.
The Greyhounds, meanwhile, finish the season with a 7-7 overall record. As a program, Loyola has now advanced to 16 NCAA Tournaments, and has made back-to-back appearances in the postseason for the first time since the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Overall, Loyola is 8-8 all-time in NCAA First-Round games.