Oct. 15, 2004
Baltimore, Md. - Senior Kevin Nash scored two goals and freshman Frank Spanos knocked home his second consecutive game-winner as Loyola topped conference rival St. Peter's on Friday afternoon at Alumnae Field. The Greyhounds erase a one-goal halftime deficit and earn a 3-1 win to stay atop the MAAC standings.
"We've been waiting for this game since they ended our season in the MAAC Championship," says Nash. "It feels great to beat them, but we'll probably see them again in this year's tournament."
The same two teams squared off in last year's MAAC title game and the Peacocks earned a 2-1 win to keep the Greyhounds out of the NCAA Tournament. Friday's game came with plenty of emotion and St. Peter's had the early advantage.
The Peacocks were the early aggressors, testing the young Loyola defense. Sophomore Gabe Ortega, who had a very busy half, turned away a 2-on-1 St. Peter's attack in the 13th minute, forcing Marcel Nyamsi wide of the cage. The Greyhound defense, however, was penetrated in the 25th minute when Juan Gaviria slipped a low shot past a diving Justin Chelland.
"St. Peter's dominated the first half of play and deserved their first half lead," says Loyola Head Coach Mark Mettrick. "In the second half, we obviously played better. Kevin Nash scored a pair of fabulous goals and Frank Spanos scored a very nice goal himself. St. Peter's is a very good side and this is a quality win for our team."
There was an extra sense of urgency about Loyola's play after the interval and it didn't take long for the `Hounds to produce points. Forty-seven seconds into the periods, freshman Camilo Correa found Nash in front of the cage. Nash lofted a shot over the outstretched hand of Peacock goalie Pat Nagawiecki and the game was knotted at 1-1.
The Greyhounds, looking like a different side that was on its heels for most of the first half, kept attacking the cage. After a St. Peter's penalty in the 62nd minute, sophomore Rade Kokovic reversed the field with his direct kick, passing the ball to freshman Ray Hassett, who sent it to senior Chase Franklin's head. The header just missed, but Loyola, which was outshot 9-1 in the first half, now had momentum.
A nice give-and-go between Spanos and senior Mark Donnelly resulted in a sliding shot from Donnelly, which was saved by Nagawiecki in the 66th minute. Five minutes later, sophomore Omar Alfonso sent a perfect through-ball to junior Vinnie Piscopo inside the six-yard area, but an offsides call negated the shot. The `Hounds finally took the lead when Spanos sent a bullet into the upper right corner of the cage at 83:01.
"After Ray [Hassett] sent it in and Omar [Alfonso] popped it up, the ball was sitting on top of the box," says Spanos. "All I did was put it in."
Nash provided the insurance in the 87-minute, working with Piscopo to get a clear look at the cage.
"I could tell that Vinnie [Piscopo] was going to win the ball," says Nash. "I knew exactly where he was going to put it. I just wanted to keep my shot low and stay on frame."
Nash's two goals increase his season total to three. Spanos, who has two goals this season, has made each of them count with back-to-back game-winning goals. Chelland, who started for the third time this season, improves his record in goal to 2-0-1 with seven saves.
"Playing goalie, it's all about repetition," says Chelland. "The more I play, the more comfortable I feel, and know that the defense in front of me will work hard."
The Greyhounds have allowed a total of four goals in their last five games, winning four of those contests and tying No. 15 Pennsylvania in the other. Loyola's five-game unbeaten streak improves its record to 6-4-1 overall and 4-0-0 in the MAAC. St. Peter's drops its first MAAC game of the year, and now owns a 4-2-4 overall mark.
Loyola hosts Manhattan at Alumnae field this Sunday at 1 p.m.