Men's Lacrosse Kicks Off ECAC Play With Penn State Saturday

Feb. 25, 2009

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Game Overview: After picking up its first home victory on Saturday against Towson, No. 16/18 Loyola (1-1) embarks on a tough, three-game road swing over the next week, starting with Saturday's ECAC opener against Penn State at 1 p.m. in State College, Pa. The Hounds will then spend their spring break prepping for Siena on Tuesday and Duke next Saturday.

Last Time Out: For the second time in as many weeks, attackman Collin Finnerty matched his career-high with five points on four goals and sophomore attackman Matt Langan added a pair, and the Greyhounds dropped neighbor Towson, 11-8, on Saturday at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field in front of 2,436 spectators.

Quick Start: Loyola jumped out of the gates swiftly against the Tigers, leading 4-0 after the first period and never relinquishing the early advantage. For the Greyhounds, six different players found the net, while senior P.T. Ricci and junior Taylor Ebsary led on the defensive end with game-high eight groundballs each. Sophomore Jake Hagelin made 13 saves on 37 shots.

The Series: Penn State holds a slight 27-21-1 advantage over Loyola in an even-50 all-time matchups. But Loyola has had its fair share of success lately against the Nittany Lions. In the team's last three matchups since 2006--all of them conference openers-- Loyola has come out on top.

Last Meeting vs. PSU: These same teams kicked off conference play against each other on March 1, 2008, and the then-14th-ranked Greyhounds won a low-scoring affair, 7-4, in Baltimore. Loyola held Penn State to two second-half goals and just one shot in the fourth period in a victory that would prove to be the first step in a successful conquest for the Greyhounds in the ECAC.

Loyola In Conference Play: Since joining the ECAC in 2005, the Greyhounds are 3-1 in conference openers, all of them coming against Penn State. Last season the Greyhounds went 6-1 in league play en route to winning the league title and their second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Loyola is 16-5 in conference play during the Charley Toomey era and has never finished lower than tied for second in the final standings.

Scouting The Nittany Lions: Penn State (0-2) fell to a mutual opponent of Loyola's, eighth-ranked Notre Dame, 13-8 on Saturday. They battled back from an early 3-0 deficit to nearly tie the game in the fourth quarter. But a late Irish run allowed Notre Dame to get out of Holuba Hall with the win. Chris Hogan and Jack Forster each led Penn State with two goals apiece while Chris Mulqueen had three assists. Goalie Drew Adams had 16 saves against 42 Notre Dame shots. The Nittany Lions fell at Robert Morris, 12-11, in double overtime in their season opener.

The Coaches: Loyola's Charley Toomey '90 enters his fourth season as head coach of his alma mater's lacrosse program, boasting a 21-20 (.512) career record. He is 3-0 all-time against Penn State. Head Coach Glenn Thiel enters his 32nd season as head coach at PSU with a 225-172 record. He is now 302-208 overall and in his 42nd year overall.

Loyola-Penn State In The Polls: The Greyhounds retained their No. 16 ranking in the USILA poll and fell to No. 18 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media poll. The Nittany Lions enter the game unranked.

Finnerty Honored by ECAC: After scoring five points on four goals for the second consecutive week against Towson, Loyola attackman Collin Finnerty was named the ECAC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday by the conference offices. Finnerty now leads the ECAC with 10 points and eight goals through two weeks. The junior got Loyola off to a quick start, earning points on three of Loyola's first four goals. He has been shooting with a deadly accuracy as of late, scoring eight goals on just 11 attempts on frame.

Inside Lacrosse Tabs Ricci To Team of Week: Senior long-stick middie P.T. Ricci was named to Inside Lacrosse's Team of the Weekend on Tuesday by the publication. Against Towson, Ricci collected a team-high eight groundballs, caused four turnovers, and helped limit the Tigers' middies to just two goals. Ricci was also just one of 10 players to be named to the ECAC Honor Roll, which recognizes top performances from the past week.

Welcome Back Koppens: The Loyola offense gets a shot in the arm with the return of senior attackman Shane Koppens, who returns to the Loyola lineup after sitting out the first two games of the season as ordered by the NCAA in the decision to grant him an extra year of eligibility. Koppens led Loyola last season with 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists) and was named the 2008 ECAC Offensive Player of the Year and an Honorable Mention All-American by the USILA.

Sawyer Starts, Scores: Freshman Mike Sawyer earned his first start against Towson and played well, scoring his first collegiate points with a goal in the fourth period, as well as providing an assist to Langan.

Ricci Tabbed Preseason All-American: Loyola long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci was named a preseason First Team All-American in mid-December in Inside Lacrosse's Face-Off Yearbook, while Koppens garnered honorable mention honors. Ricci picked up 84 groundballs last season, which was fifth most in program history for a single season. Ricci also led his team with 41 caused turnovers and picked up at least five groundballs on 10 different occasions.

Koppens, Ricci Named To ECAC Team: Both Koppens and Ricci were two of the 11 players named to the preseason All-ECAC Team. Koppens led the league last season with 45 points and was named the ECAC Offensive Player of the Year. Ricci was also named a First Team All-ECAC selection in 2008 after leading the Greyhounds to their first-ever ECAC title since joining the league in 2005.

Greyhounds Picked Second In ECAC: A vote by league coaches picked defending-champs Loyola to finish second in the ECAC for the 2009 season. The Greyhounds received three first-place votes from the league's eight coaches. Georgetown, ranked seventh in the preseason national USILA poll, was picked to finish first.

Loyola Names Its Captains: The 2009 Greyhounds will be captained by a talented quartet of seniors: midfielder Jimmy Daly, defender Eddie Graham- a talented defenseman who missed all of last season with a knee injury- Koppens and Ricci.

2008 Loyola Season Recap: Loyola earned its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the ECAC with a 6-1 record and earning the league's automatic postseason berth. The Greyhounds went 7-7 last season and fell at top-seeded Duke, 12-7, in the first round of the tournament in Durham, N.C.

Plenty of Scorers Returning: Loyola brings back eight starters from last year's team and 35 letterwinners. Included are the top four scorers from a year ago: Koppens (19 G, 25 A), junior Cooper MacDonnell (22 G, 5 A), sophomore Matt Langan (11 G, 7 A) and junior Collin Finnerty (16 G, 1 A).

Don't Forget The 'D: In 2008, the Greyhounds made defense their trademark, ranking 17th nationally in goals-against-average, while limiting ECAC opponents to a league-low 5.57 goals-a-game. Loyola welcomes back senior Eric Kohl, juniors Steve Layne and Steve Dircks, along with Graham, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but was a standout defenseman for Loyola two seasons ago.

New Faces At Face-Off: Loyola will miss the presence of Tim McDermott at the X. McDermott graduated last season but won 109-of-186 (.586) last season for the Greyhounds. Stepping in to fill the void will be senior Michael Atkinson (43-46, .483 in 2008) and John Schiavone (11-7, .611). Junior Michael Haight will also contend for a spot in the rotation.

Good To Go In The Goal: Sophomore Jake Hagelin had one of the more impressive freshman seasons in the country last year, playing in all but 25 minutes the entire year and setting a new single-season ECAC record with a 5.52 GAA in conference play. The team also welcomes back senior Alex Peaty, who helped Loyoa to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.