May 3, 2006
Baltimore, Md. - Loyola and Johns Hopkins, separated by one mile of Charles Street asphalt, have formed a long-standing rivalry between men's lacrosse programs since their first meeting in 1939. This Saturday at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field, the teams face each other for the 44th time with major playoff implications on the line. The game, televised locally by ABC-2 and nationally by ESPNU begins at 1 p.m. Live Audio
The season finale for both programs, Loyola comes into the game with a No. 18 ranking in the Inside Lacrosse media poll, while Hopkins is No. 7. Both teams would greatly improve upon their postseason position with a win and will have an attentive audience for a resume building game that also has plenty of bragging rights on the line.
The `Hounds wrapped up their second season in the ECAC with a convincing 11-6 win at Hobart last Saturday. Loyola finished the campaign with a 5-2 league record and brings a 6-5 overall record into this weekend. Fortunately for the Greyhounds, Saturday's game is on their home turf, where they've been untouchable this year, winning by an average of 6.75 goals per game.
Loyola's 4-0 home record includes wins over No. 3 Georgetown and No. 16 Penn State, as well an ABC-2 win over ECAC foe Rutgers. In back-to-back weekends, the Greyhounds earned their first home TV win and first win over a Top-5 opponent since April of 2001. A win over Johns Hopkins on Saturday would give Loyola its first perfect home season since 1999.
Although much of Loyola's success can be attributed to a defense which has held opponents to six or fewer goals in five games this season, the offense has come alive with the emergence of the nation's No. 1 man-up unit. With a conversion percentage of .575, the Greyhounds have a shot at the NCAA record for single-season man-up efficiency (.578) held by the 1997 Army Black Knights. Junior Dan Bauers, who has seven extra-man goals, is a big reason why.
Bauers leads the team with 22 goals and 32 points this season - offensive numbers that haven't been put up since Stephen Brundage's 23-goal effort in 2003. Classmate Ryan Rabidou has added 17 goals this year, and both juniors have felt comfortable at home, scoring eight goals apiece at Geppi-Aikens Field.
The Loyola defense, meanwhile, is fueled by the play of senior goalie Michael Fretwell, who ranks 11th in the nation in save percentage and leads the ECAC in saves per game. He will be asked to slow Blue Jay sophomore Kevin Huntley, who has 26 goals this season.
As a team, Johns Hopkins is scoring 9.64 goals per game with 53 assists this season. Loyola, which has 80 assists on the year, is averaging 10.18 goals per game - its highest total since 2001. The Blue Jays, who are 7-4 overall, are coming off back-to-back one-goal wins over Navy and Towson.
Last year at Homewood Field, the Blue Jays held a 4-3 halftime lead on Loyola and pulled away with five goals in the third quarter to close the regular season with a 12-0 record. Johns Hopkins went on to win its eight national championship and first since 1987.
This year's game marks the seventh straight time these teams have met in the regular season finale. It is also the final home game for five Loyola seniors: Mike Alfone, Michael Fretwell, Craig Georgalas, Trae Rodgers and C.J. Sinisgalli. In addition to live television coverage on ABC-2 and ESPNU, the game can also be heard in its entirety on WNST AM 1570 and Online at www.LoyolaGreyhounds.com.