Loyola University Maryland takes on its most-played opponent on Wednesday, February 19, when it hosts Towson University at 3 p.m.
The game marks the start of the Greyhounds’ fifth season at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Loyola and Towson will face each other for the 56th time in series history.
The Greyhounds, dating to last season, have played three-straight overtime games (at Duke in 2012 NCAA Tournament, at Virginia and at Penn State).
Through two games, 10 players have scored at least one goal for Loyola this season with seven of them tallying two or more. Of those goal scorers, only two of the 10 (Justin Ward and Nikko Pontrello) entered the year with more than five career goals.
Nikko Pontrello and Tyler Albrecht lead Loyola with five goals each through two games this year. Both scored two in the opener and then had hat tricks at Penn State.
Justin Ward has five points on the season, with a goal and four assists, tying him for second on the team with Albrecht and Brian Schultz. He is now fifth in school D-I history in assists (71).
Last Time Out
The Greyhounds needed 19 seconds of overtime on Saturday to wrap up their first win of the season, as Nikko Pontrello sealed an 12-11 victory over then-No. 9 Penn State with a goal moments into extra time.
Pontrello finished with three goals and two assists, one of three Greyhounds to record hat tricks. His was the fourth three-or-more goal game of his career, while Tyler Albrecht and Jeff Chase both recorded their first.
Jack Runkel made 12 saves, five during the fourth quarter when Penn State reeled off 13 shots, in goal.
Loyola took an 11-7 lead on Pontrello’s second goal of the game 2:50 into the fourth quarter, but the Nittany Lions scored four unanswered to tie the game at 11-11 on an Erik Myers tally with 63 seconds left in regulation.
Brendan Donovan won the ensuing faceoff for the Greyhounds, but a shot by Justin Ward just before the buzzer went wide, sending the contest to overtime.
In the extra frame, Graham Savio won the faceoff for Loyola after a loose-ball push on the Nittany Lions. Pontrello dodged his way to the crease and finished the shot for his third goal.
Follow The Action
Wednesday’s game, and all non-televised home games, will be broadcast on the Patriot League Network. Many of Loyola’s road conference games will also be available on the free HD network.
Following the Greyhounds’ win at Penn State and an overtime loss at Virginia to start the year, Loyola moved up to ninth in the USILA Coaches’ Poll and 10th in the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse rankings.
The Loyola-Towson rivalry is the most played series in the history of men’s lacrosse at both schools. Wednesday’s game will be the 56th all-time meeting between the teams, dating back to 1959, the first year of intercollegiate lacrosse at Towson.
Of Loyola’s opponents, only Towson (55), Johns Hopkins (51) and Penn State (51) have played the Greyhounds 50 or more times.
With its sixth-straight victory in the series, dating back to 2008, Loyola took a one-game lead in the all-time series record at 28-27 with a 14-9 victory on February 20, 2013 at Towson.
In last year’s game, Mike Sawyer scored four goals for the second year in a row against the Tigers, and Justin Ward had a four-point night with a goal and three assists. Kevin Ryan also had his first career multi-goal game with two to go with an assist. Blake Burkhart won 17-of-28 faceoffs for the Greyhounds.
New Year, New League
Loyola officially became a member of the 10-school Patriot League on July 1, 2013, less than a year after announcing it would join the conference in August 2012. The Greyhounds joined the League along with Boston University, increasing the full-time membership to 10.
The Greyhounds will compete in men’s lacrosse with Boston University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy. American University is also a full member of the League, but the school does not sponsor men’s lacrosse.
On The Tube
Loyola men’s lacrosse will make a minimum of four appearances on national television this year as part of the Patriot League’s agreement with CBS Sports Network.
The Greyhounds will host Duke University on Sunday, March 9, in a match-up of the last two NCAA Champions, and CBS will then feature the Greyhounds’ Thursday, April 17, game against Bucknell University, the top two teams in the Preseason Patriot League poll. The network will also feature two long-time rivals when Loyola hosts Johns Hopkins University, on Saturday, May 3.
Additionally, the Loyola-Georgetown game on Wednesday, March 19, in Washington, D.C., was added to the CBS Sports Network slate.
Both semifinal games in the Patriot League Championships will be broadcast on Friday, April 25, and the Patriot League Championship Game will also air live on Sunday, April 27.
As a first-year member of the Patriot League, Loyola was picked to win the conference title in a poll of the League’s coaches and sports information contacts. The Greyhounds drew 13 of the possible 16 first-place votes (schools are not allowed to vote for themselves) and edged Bucknell for first.
Loyola and Bucknell were followed (in order) by Lehigh, Army, Colgate, Navy, Holy Cross, Lafayette and Boston U.
Joe Fletcher was named the Preseason Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, and he earned a spot with teammate Justin Ward on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team.
Fletch, White And Blue
Senior defender Joe Fletcher was the long current collegiate player selected as part of one of 52 players who made up the United States Men’s National Team training roster this fall, and the day before Loyola’s season-opener, he found out he is one of 30 players who made the cut for the team that will compete at the 2014 World Cup in Denver.
Fletcher trained with Team USA throughout the fall, playing in two training weekends, the Play For Parkinson’s event in October and the Champion Challenge last month. He was one of seven defenders to make the 30-man roster.
In The Nikko Of Time
Nikko Pontrello tallied his fourth career hat trick last Saturday, and first of the season, scoring 19 seconds into overtime to lift the Greyhounds to a 12-11 victory at then-No. 9 Penn State. He also added a pair of assists versus the Nittany Lions that were initially misatributed to Justin Ward.
The junior attacker is tied for the team lead with five goals this season after finishing his sophomore campaign with 16, and he tops the club with eight points. Loyola improved to 4-0 in games that Pontrello records three or more goals.
Albrecht, Chase With First Three-Goal Games
Two other players also recorded hat tricks on Saturday against the Nittany Lions, but unlike Nikko Pontrello, it was the first of Tyler Albrecht and Jeff Chase’s careers.
Albrecht is tied with Pontrello for the team lead with five goals after scoring twice in the opener at Virginia, while Chase’s goals were the first three of his career.
Albrecht scored one goal in each of the first three quarters, while Chase tallied his first on an extra-man possession in the first before recording back-to-back goals in the third quarter.
Much like Graham Savio did at the faceoff ‘X’ in the season-opener at Virginia, Brendan Donovan gave the Greyhounds a spark in the second half on restarts. The senior from nearby Loyola Blakefield High School won four of the seven he took, including drawing one to himself with just over a minute to go after the Nittany Lions had tied the game at 11-11.
Jack Runkel posted 12 saves, including five in the fourth quarter, of the win against Penn State after making just three stops in the season-opener against Virginia.
The senior goalkeeper, who earned 2012 NCAA Championships All-Tournament honors, made five of the saves in the fourth quarter as Penn State took 13 shots.
Quarterbacking The Offense
Justin Ward returns for his third year as a starter on attack for the Greyhounds and will once again serve as Loyola’s quarterback from ‘X’. Last season, Ward earned USILA All-America Honorable Mention after finishing tops on the team in points (62) and assists (35) and second in goals (27). His 62 points ranked tied for fifth in school single-season Division I history, and his 35 assists check in at third on that list.
With two assists, one off his career-high, last Saturday at Penn State, Ward moved into fifth-place in Loyola’s Division I history with 71. He trails Mike Ruland in fourth place by five. Ward also is tied with Gavin Prout for 20th in school Division I history with 111 career points.
Dennis Grabs Patriot League Honor
Romar Dennis was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Monday after scoring a pair of goals in his first collegiate game at Virginia. Dennis tallied one in the first quarter and one in the fourth that tied the game at 12-12.
Three Loyola players scored their first collegiate goals in the first quarter of the Greyhounds’ game at Virginia. Brian Sherlock, Tyler Albrecht and Romar Dennis all tallied the first of their careers as Loyola worked to a 4-4 tie after 15 minutes.
Of the eight players who scored for Loyola, six of them entered the game with four or fewer career goals. Justin Ward and Nikko Pontrello were the only two with more than four.