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Sawyer's Four, Imposing Face-Off Play Helps No. 15 Men's Lacrosse Upend Rutgers, 12-9
April 4, 2009
New Brunswick, N.J. - Freshman Mike Sawyer scored three of his career-high four goals in the first half while attackmen Shane Koppens and Collin Finnerty scored two apiece to lead No. 15/16 Loyola to a 12-9 win over homestanding Rutgers on Saturday afternoon at Yurcak Field in ECAC play.
Heading into the weekend, Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey emphasized the game's importance, as it began a stretch of four consecutive conference decisions in April for the Greyhounds.
Loyola (6-4 overall, 3-1 ECAC) responded adequately to grind out the win despite windy conditions. Much in part came from success at the face-off, with Loyola going 18-for-24 at the X. Junior John Schiavone led the way at 16-of-19, one win short of his career-high 17 which he set earlier in the season against St. John's.
The victory leaps Loyola over the Scarlet Knights (4-7 overall, 2-2 ECAC ) into a tie with Fairfield for second-place in the ECAC with a road date at Georgetown next week on deck.
"We went out and did what we were supposed to do today," Toomey said, "Wins on the road in conference play are always tough to come by, and I'm proud of our kid's efforts."
Fittingly, Sawyer got the Hounds on the board first, 6:06 into the opening period. He drove from the right alley and beat Rutgers goalie Billy Olin high for the early 1-0 lead. Sophomore Stephen Murray would double the advantage on an unassisted putaway, his second goal of the season. Rutgers answered with goals by Mike Dugan and Jeff Rommel to even the teams at 2 apiece with 2:43 to play in the first.
Loyola closed out the quarter with two goals, though. Cooper MacDonnell scored on a wrap-around from behind the goal, his team-high 22nd of the season. Then, Koppens scored with just 14 ticks left on the clock, as he found the soft spot of the zone off a feed from Finnerty.
Sawyer opened up the second period with a goal, a high-to-low putaway from the right alley. Two straight goals by Rutger's Justin Pennington and Mike Diehl trimmed the Loyola advantage to one, 5-4, with just under 10 minutes to play.
Koppens scored on an unassisted goal with 7:15 to play. Then, Sawer again found the net to earn the hat-trick in the first half. The Scarlet Knights' Dugan scored with 1:12 to cut the Loyola advantage to 7-5 at half.
Finnerty scored to open the third period on an assist from Taylor Ebsary, and with 7:33 left, Sawyer scored on an unassisted putaway for his fourth of the day.
A goal by midfielder Chris Basler--his second of the season--- provided Loyola with its biggest lead of the game at five, 10-5, with 7:33 left.
"It's good to see some new faces like [Mike] Sawyer and Stephen [Murray] and Chris [Basler] scoring," Toomey said. "We are going to need efforts like these in the future if we want to be successful."
Rutgers' Tad Stanwick found the net to close out the period.
With an extra-man opportunity to open the fourth period, Loyola took advantage with an Eric Lusby goal assisted by Koppens, pushing the visiting lead to 11-6.
Rutgers' Gerhard Buehning scored, but a goal by Finnerty--off a back-door feed from MacDonnell--upped the Loyola lead to 12-7 with 8 minutes remaining. The Scarlet Knights' Kory Kelly and Buehning added tallies in the final minutes to close out the scoring.
For the second consecutive game, Loyola goalkeeper Alex Peaty earned the start. He played the first half and made one save. Jake Hagelin played the entire second half and made three saves to earn the win.
Loyola outshot Rutgers, 34-27, for the game. Along with Schiavone,senior Michael Atkinson earned a season-high five chances at face-off and won two.
The Greyhounds travel to Georgetown next week at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on MASN.