Loyola, Johns Hopkins End Regular Season Saturday In Battle Of Ranked Charles-Street Foes

April 30, 2009

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Game Overview: No. 13/13 Loyola concludes its regular season on Saturday with a short trip down Charles Street to battle No. 6/8 Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field in a 1 p.m. match broadcast on ABC-2/ESPNU. The Greyhounds (9-4 overall) are peaking at the right time of the season, bringing a season-best four-game winning streak into the cross-town showdown. Loyola hasn't beaten the Blue Jays since a 14-5 win back in 1999 and looks to break a nine-game slide in the non-conference tilt.

The Situation: With a win over Hobart last Saturday, Loyola wrapped up ECAC play with a 6-1 record to clinch at least a share of its third straight Regular Season title. A win today by Massachusetts (8-5 overall, 5-1 conference) over Rutgers, however, would push the Minutemen to 6-1 in the league and provide them the conference's automatic berth by virtue of their 8-6 win over Loyola back on March 21. If that should occur, Loyola has to hope its resume, including a No. 9 ranking in the latest RPI, is enough to warrant an at-large bid to its third straight NCAA Tournament.

The Rankings: Loyola currently holds the No. 13 ranking in both the USILA Coaches poll and the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll. They are ninth in Tuesday's College RPI rankings. The Blue Jays are ranked No. 6/8 and hold the top spot in the RPI.

Last Time Out: Collin Finnerty scored four goals in the game's first 12 minutes, helping 14th-ranked Loyola jump out to a 7-1 lead, and three Greyhounds recorded three or more goals in the 16-7 ECAC victory over visiting Hobart last Saturday at a warm Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. Eric Lusby and D.J. Comer each added career-highs of three goals for Loyola. Comer's goals were the first of his career as Loyola wrapped up its home schedule 5-2 and earned at least a share of the ECAC Regular Season title.

The Series: Since the teams first squared off in 1939, Loyola is 3-43 against the Blue Jays in 46 all-time meetings. Hopkins has won nine straight games in the series, with the last Loyola win a 14-5 success back in 1999 at Homewood Field.

Last Meeting vs. JHU: Shane Koppens scored two goals and added an assist as the teams entered the fourth period tied at five apiece, but the Blue Jays ended the game on a 4-1 run to take a 9-6 win in the season finale back on May 3, 2008, at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. After a goal by Koppens tied the games with 12:07 left in the third, Loyola scored two straight goals by Taylor Ebsary and Chris Basler to put the Blue Jays on the ropes, 5-3. Hopkins, though, led by Mike Kimmel's hat-trick, outscored Loyola 6-1 the rest of the way for their ninth straight win in the series.

Scouting The Blue Jays: JHU (8-4) enters today's matchup on a five-game winning streak after dropping homestanding Mt. St. Mary's, 12-5, on Monday evening. Sophomore attackman Kyle Wharton scored four goals and junior attackman Chris Boland added two goals and a career-high four assists to lead the offense. Hopkins has a number of players who can impact the game offensively and boasts five 30+ point-scorers: Wharton (37), Boland and Michael Kimmel (36), Steven Boyle (33) and Brian Christopher (31). The Blue Jays' average 11.66 goals-a-game and were seventh nationally in scoring average as of Monday's NCAA statistics.

The Coaches: Loyola's Charley Toomey '90 enters his fourth season as head coach of his alma mater's lacrosse program, boasting a 29-23 (.556) career record. He is winless in three chances against the Blue Jays. Head Coach Dave Pietramala enters his ninth season at the helm of the JHU program with a 104-29 record (.781), including two National Championships in 2005 and 2007. He is a perfect 8-0 against Loyola.

Greyhounds Send Out Seniors On Top: A sizable 16-7 home win on Saturday provided 11 members of Loyola's 2009 Senior Class, along with fifth-year student Shane Koppens and graduate student Brian Cullinane, a victory in their last home game ever. The class departs the Evergreen campus with a 22-6 mark in ECAC games, three straight league Regular Season Titles, and a 29-23 overall record (2006:6-6, 2007:7-6, 2008:7-7, 2009: 9-4).

Trying For Three: A win over Hopkins today would go a long way in Loyola's hopes of securing its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. They have not accomplished that feat since the 1999-2001 seasons. The Greyhounds have lost in the first round the last two seasons, a 12-7 loss to top-seeded Duke in 2008, and a 19-10 setback to Albany the year before.

Finnerty, Hagelin Recognized By ECAC: While 11 seniors were recognized prior to the Hobart game, it was a junior and a sophomore who had the most productive days in the win. As a result, Collin Finnerty was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Week and goalie Jake Hagelin co-Defensive Player for their roles in the victory. Finnerty scored four goals--all coming in the first period--for his second straight first-half hat-trick. Hagelin was stellar in the cage, making eight saves and allowing just five goals in nearly 53 minutes of action.

Findings Their Groove: Loyola comes into today's game with its offensive unit hitting its stride. In three of the team's last four games, the Hounds have scored double-digit goals, including a season-high 16 in last week's win over Hobart. The Hounds' 10.46 goals-a-game stand 16th nationally.

The Big Three: All thereof Loyola's starting attackmen have scored at least 30 points this season, with Cooper MacDonnell and Shane Koppens registering 37 apiece and Collin Finnerty with 36. They are the first trio of Loyola teammates to break the 30 + point barrier since Stephen Brundage (36) Chris Summers (34) and Gunnar Goettelmann (32) did it back in 2003.

Starting Hot, Ending Strong: Collin Finnerty started the 2009 season stronger than anyone in the country, registering four-goal games in Loyola's season opener against Notre Dame and in the home opener against Towson. After scoring "only" six goals through his next eight games, he has again found the hot-hand, scoring multi-goal games in three of his last four. He went 2-1 against Rutgers, followed it up with a first-half hat-trick against Fairfield, and scored four in the first period last week. That stretch doesn't include his career-best four-assist outing back on March 28 in Loyola's near upset of Syracuse. He has 23 goals and 13 assists on the year.

Ricci Moves Up List: With one groundball in last weekend's win, senior long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci moved to fifth on Loyola's single-season groundball list with 87. The preseason Inside Lacrosse All-American needs just six more to catch his current coach, Matt Dwan, (93 in 1995) and 10 more to catch Jamie Hanford (97 in 1997). Peter Haas' 106 groundballs in the 1998 sits atop the list.

Koppens, As Well: Another senior captain, attackman Shane Koppens, had a stellar day in the win, handing out three assists to push his career-points total to 157, good for eighth on the all-time Loyola list. He is eight shy of tying Mike Ruland (165) for seventh.

Hat-Trick Happy: A season-high three Greyhounds scored hat-tricks in the win over Hobart, with Finnerty scoring four and Eric Lusby and D.J. Comer scoring three apiece. It marked the first time that three Greyhounds had scored three or more goals in a game since Patrick Kennedy, then-freshman Michael Crimmins and Ryan Rabidou scored three apiece in a 19-4 trouncing of Wagner back on March 7, 2006.

Coming Out Party: Entering Saturday's win over Hobart, sophomore attackman D.J. Comer had appeared in just two of Loyola's 12 games on the season and hadn't scored a point. That changed drastically in the win over the Statesmen, as Comer scored three fourth-period goals, marking the first goal of his career.

Ground Control: Loyola is third in the nation in groundball-margin, averaging 38 groundballs-a-game. P.T. Ricci is fifth individually (6.54-a-game) and John Schiavone is 13th (5.92). The Greyhound are 8-2 in games when they control the groundball margin and 1-2 when they don't.

Hounds Limit ECAC Opponents: Not one of Loyola's seven conference opponents registered double-digit goals against the Greyhounds. In fact, Loyola outscored league foes, 72-52, a difference of nearly three goals-a-game.

The Face Of The Hounds: Perhaps no other player has had a more positive impact on the season than face-off specialist John Schiavone, who has won149-of-253 face-offs for a .587 winning percentage, ranking sixth nationally. Along with senior Michael Atkinson, the Greyhounds have won 167-of-294 opportunities (.568) on the season, which stands seventh.

Midfield Making Mark: As the season has progressed, so has the productivity of the Loyola midfield unit. Of Loyola's 16 goals against Hobart, a season-high six came from the middies, with Lusby scoring three and Jimmy Daly, Stephen Murray and Jake Willcox all scoring one each.

Lusby's Breakout Foreseeable?: Before the Hobart match, sophomore Eric Lusby had scored a goal in four of his five previous games. Still, his career-high three-goals in the win certainly qualified as a break-out for the talented middie from Severna Park, Md. He now has scored 10 goals on the year, tying Jake Willcox for the most by a Greyhound midfielder.

Hagelin Returns To Form: Since being reinserted into the starting lineup in the win over Rutgers, goalkeeper Jake Hagelin has flashed the skill which earned him 2008 ECAC Rookie of the Year. He now has a 7.69 goals-against-average and .542 save percentage.

Loyola Under The Lights: In their three televised games this season, Loyola has gone 2-1, with wins coming against Towson (ABC-2ESPNU) and at Georgetown (MASN). Syracuse earned a come-from-behind win in the other ABC-2/ESPNU broadcast.

Greyhounds In, According To IL: In their lastest Bracketology, Inside Lacrosse has Loyola earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they would face top-seeded Duke.

Layne Wears `Blue Collar': Defender Steve Layne was one of five players recognized by Inside Lacrosse this week for being a `Bluest Collar of 2009 Player'. Here is their description of Layne: He's picked up 41 groundballs on the year while leading Loyola's defense by covering opponent's best players, all while the Greyhounds are giving up only 8.64 goals per game. When P.T. Ricci is gone next season, Layne's athleticism will help him take the reins in the transition game for the Greyhounds, as well.

Koppens Named A Tewaaraton Finalist: Senior Shane Koppens was named a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award on April 15, which recognizes the top player in all of collegiate lacrosse. Koppens, a native of Clifton Park, N.Y., has scored 29 points on 17 goals and a team-high 12 assists as of April 16.