Second-Ranked Syracuse, Men's Lacrosse Square Off In Televised Affair

March 24, 2009

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Game Overview: No. 15/15 Loyola (5-3, 2-1 ECAC) concludes a four-game homestand on Saturday against the No. 2 team in the country: Syracuse (6-1). The game will be broadcast on WMAR-TV and ESPN-U. Face-off is slated for noon.

The Rankings: On Monday Loyola moved to 15th in both the USILA Coaches Poll and the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Rankings. The Orange maintained the No.2 ranking in both polls for the fourth consecutive week.

Last Time Out: After Loyola and Massachusetts exchanged early goals, the Minutemen (4-3, 1-0 ECAC) scored three unanswered to take a 4-1 halftime lead. The Greyhounds couldn't overcome the slow start and eventually fell 8-6 at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field, handing Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey his first conference home loss of his career. He is now 11-1 against ECAC opponents in Baltimore.

The Series: Loyola is 5-18 against Syracuse all-time, but the Greyhounds have fared considerably better at home with a 4-6 record in games played in the Charm City. In the team's last matchup at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field in 2007, No. 10 Loyola posted an 11-10 victory over 12th ranked Syracuse, as goalkeeper Alex Peaty stopped a point-blank shot from Syracuse's Kenny Nims as time expired. Attackman Shane Koppens finished with three goals and an assist.

Last Meeting vs. Syracuse: Attackman Cooper MacDonnell scored four goals as Loyola threatened, but suffered its first road loss against No. 2 Syracuse, 13-8, in the Carrier Dome nearly one year ago today. The teams exchanged leads three times in the first half and Syracuse took a 5-4 advantage into break. But after a goal by Jake Willcox knotted the action, the Orange ripped off the next four goals to take a 9-5 lead and outscored Loyola 4-1 in the final period. Loyola goalie Jake Hagelin finished with 13 saves.

Scouting `Cuse: Syracuse posted a dominant win its last time out. In a game that featured the nation's highest-scoring offense and the country's stingiest defense, Syracuse's potent attack prevailed as the second-ranked Orange defeated No. 17 Hobart, 13-4, on Tuesday. Senior attackman Kenny Nims led the way for Syracuse with six points (2g, 4a). Sophomore attackman Stephen Keogh finished with four goals, one short of his career high, and senior midfielder Pat Perritt tallied a career-best four points.

Other Orange Info: As of Monday, the Orangemen led the country in scoring (14.33 goals-a-game) and stood sixth in scoring defense (6.33 goals allowed-a-game). The defending national champs are also tops in scoring margin, defeating opponents by an average of 7.33 goals-a-game.

The Coaches: Loyola's Charley Toomey '90 enters his fourth season as head coach of his alma mater's lacrosse program, boasting a 25-22 (.531) career record. He is 1-2 against the `Cuse. John Desko is in his 11th season at the helm of the Orange, having won four NCAA Titles. He is 123-41 with an 8-3 record against Loyola.

More On The UMass Game: UMass jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the third, but Loyola made its run. Attackman Cooper MacDonnell scored a pair of goals--including one with 10:25 remaining in the fourth period --to draw the Greyhounds within two, 8-6. But Loyola could not get any closer the rest of the way, as UMass goalie Doc Schneider made 11 of his season-high 17 saves in the final 30 minutes to preserve the upset.

Ricci Named A Mid-Season All-American: Loyola senior P.T. Ricci was named to the Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-American First Team this week for the `specialist' designation. He was just one of 11 players on the First Team. He was named a pre-season All-American by numerous publications. He was the only Loyola player recognized.

MacDonnell, Ricci Tabbed To ECAC Honor Roll: Loyola attackman Cooper MacDonnell and long-stick middie P.T. Ricci were named to the conference honor roll on Monday. MacDonnell scored his second hat-trick of the season against UMass and added an assist, while Ricci turned in another typical day at the office with eight groundballs and five caused turnovers.

Ground Control: Loyola comes into the game averaging nearly 38 groundballs-a-game, which ranks third in the country. The majority of those have been scooped by Loyola long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci, whose 7.63 groundballs-a-game are also good for third in the country in the individual count.

Ricci On Pace For Single-Season Record: With 63 groundballs through Loyola's eight games, preseason All-American P.T. Ricci is currently on pace to become Loyola's all-time single-season groundball holder. The Loyola record for groundballs in a season is 106 set by Peter Haas in the 1998 season. Ricci, averaging 7.63 a game, is on track for 109 with a minimum of six games still on the schedule.

Schiavone Controlling The X: After a career-best 17-of-20 day against St. John's two weeks ago, junior John Schiavone followed it up with another solid 12-for-18 showing against UMass. He now boasts a .586 winning percentage, good for 11th in the country. His 5.63 groundballs-a-game stand 16th.

MacDonnell Making His Mark: While Shane Koppens and Collin Finnerty have garnered a lot of attention, Loyola's most consistent scorer this year has been attackman Cooper MacDonnell. The junior's 16 goals lead the team and he is the only player to score a goal in all eight of Loyola's games. MacDonnell has found the net at least twice in every contest since Towson, and is averaging 2.33 goals-a-game over Loyola's last six.

Greyhounds Feature Talented Trio Up Top: Loyola is just one of two teams in the ECAC to boast three players in double-digit goals: Cooper MacDonnell (16), Collin Finnerty (13) and Shane Koppens (12). The other is Penn State.

More On Loyola's Depth: Loyola has 15 players this season score at least one goal, while eight players have scored four or more goals. One more point from both MacDonnell and Finnerty (each have 19 points) will give Loyola a trio of 20-point performers. Koppens has 22 already despite sitting out the first two games.

Daly Makes Scoring Routine From Midfield: Loyola senior co-captain Jimmy Daly leads Loyola's midfielders with seven goals and an assist. Senior Jake Willcox has come on strong as well, scored a goal in the last three games. He has five on the year.

Peaty Comes In For Cage Relief: Loyola goalkeeper Alex Peaty spelled starter Jake Hagelin against UMass and played 18 minutes, allowing two goals. Both Peaty and Hagelin have fared well against the Orange in prior meetings. Last season, Hagelin made 13 saves against Syracuse and in 2007, Peaty made 12 saves in the matchup, including a point-blank stop in the waning seconds to preserve the 11-10 Loyola win.

Hounds On The Air: Today's game will be broadcast live on WMAR-TV and on ESPNU. Loyola won its only other TV game this season, 11-8, over Towson in the Hounds home opener in front of 2,436 fans back on February 21. The Greyhounds went 3-3 in television games in 2008. The bright lights will follow Loyola twice more this season: at Georgetown (MASN) and for the season finale at Johns Hopkins (ABC2/ESPNU).

Duplicating Upset Aspirations: The last Top-5 team to come into Diane Geppi-Aikens Field walked out with a loss. Back on April 12 of last season, Shane Koppens had a career day with five goals and two assists as Loyola led wire-to-wire to defeat then-No. 4 ranked Georgetown, 11-9.

Koppens Honored BY ECAC, Inside Lacrosse: After accomplishing a feat not seen by a Loyola player in nearly a decade, Loyola attackman Shane Koppens was named the league Offensive Player of the Week and to Inside Lacrosse's Team of the Week. Against Bryant, Koppens nearly willed the Greyhounds to a victory, scoring three goals and adding a career-high six assists, becoming the first Loyola player to score nine points in a game since Gavin Prout scored six and three in a 16-12 win over Hofstra back in the 2000 season. Koppens' six assists against the Bulldogs were the most recorded by a player in a single game this season in Division-I, and his nine-point game ranks second-best. Carrying over that momentum, the reigning ECAC Offensive Player of the Year scored two goals and added two assists in the win over St. John's.

Koppens Reaches Top Five On Career Assist List: With 10 assists on the season,Koppens has jumped from eighth to tied for fifth on the all-time Loyola career record list with 71. He is tied with Kevin Beach, who played from 1990-93. He is just six away from tying Mike Ruland (77) for fourth and is 13 shy of tying Jim Blanding for second with 84. Gary Hanley, the all-time Loyola points leader, sits comfortably atop with 160.

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.