The Greyhounds play their second game of the year on Saturday, February 25, 2012, when they host Towson University at 1 o’clock on Awalt Field at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Towson enters the game with a 1-1 record after defeating Jacksonville to open the season before falling at Johns Hopkins.
The Loyola-Towson rivalry is the most played series in the history of men’s lacrosse at both schools. Saturday’s game will be the 54th all-time meeting between the teams, dating back to 1959, the first year of intercollegiate lacrosse at Towson.
Of Loyola’s opponents, only Towson (53) and Penn State (50) have played the Greyhounds 50 or more times. Johns Hopkins will play Loyola for the 50th time later this season, and Georgetown will meet the Greyhounds for the 35th time next month.
Towson holds a slight 27-26 advantage in the series, but Loyola has won the last four.
Last year’s game was a defensive affair, as the Greyhounds won 3-2 when Matt Langan scored with 3:41 to play to put Loyola ahead.
In The Polls
Loyola moved up to No. 13 in the USILA Coaches’ Poll, and 16th in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Rankings after its 13-8 victory over Delaware.
Towson is receiving votes in the coaches version.
Loyola won its season opener for the third-straight year, defeating Delaware 13-8 last Saturday afternoon at Ridley Athletic Complex. The Greyhounds trailed, 3-0, after the first quarter, but they scored five in a row to go up 5-4 at halftime.
Lusby Makes Return
Eric Lusby returned to game action after missing all but two games of the 2011 season. Now a graduate student, Lusby tore his right ACL in the 2010 NCAA First Round game against Cornell. He attempted to come back last year, but he saw limited action against Navy and Towson and was shut down to rehab the injury for the remainder of the season.
Lusby burst back onto the scene against Delaware, scoring the Greyhounds’ first goal of the game on an extra-man opportunity, and the 2010 All-ECAC First Team member tallied three more in the second half. The four goals were a career-high for the Severna Park, Md., native.
Lusby was third on the 2010 team in goals with 20 as a member of the team’s first midfield unit. This year, Lusby has moved back to his natural position of attack.
Sawyer Shows Same Form
Mike Sawyer picked up where he left off a year ago, tallying three goals and assisting on Eric Lusby’s first, in the win over the Blue Hens. Sawyer led Loyola last season with 31 goals and 36 assists.
The Delaware game was Sawyer’s 11th career multi-goal game and the 14th multi-point effort of his tenure at Loyola.
Before the season, Sawyer was named to the Preseason All-ECAC Team and was named to the Face-Off Yearbook Preseason All-America Honorable Mention.
Ratliff Earns ECAC Honor
Scott Ratliff was honored as the ECAC Lacrosse League Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in his career on Monday after picking up a career-high seven ground balls against Delaware.
Ratliff helped key Loyola’s possession and defensive efforts in the final three quarters when he helped J.P. Dalton win 14-of-21 face-offs.
Ratliff also had two caused turnovers, and the long-stick midfielder scored the fifth goal of his collegiate career in the third quarter when Michael Bonitatibus made a clean save and sent a pass to Ratliff who executed a one-man clear and scored in transition.
Loyola was successful on all three of its extra-man opportunities in the game against the Blue Hens, scoring three man-up goals in the second quarter during its 5-0 run.
Patrick Fanshaw, Eric Lusby and Mike Sawyer each scored EMO goals of the Greyhounds, and Fanshaw added another at the end of a Delaware non-releasable penalty just as the teams returned to even strength.
The Greyhounds extra-man unit was seventh nationally with a .420 (21-of-50) conversion percentage in 2011.
Bonitatibus Wins First Start
Junior Michael Bonitatibus made his first collegiate start in goal for the Greyhounds against Delaware after having played less than two minutes prior to this season.
Bonitatibus, who played 65 seconds in his collegiate debut last year at Duke, made seven saves for the Greyhounds and allowed just eight goals. He also picked up five ground balls and caused two turnovers.
Bonitatibus became the first Loyola goalkeeper to win his starting debut in nearly 11 years. The last was Mark Bloomquist who also defeated Delaware, 8-7, on February 24, 2001.
Second Half Scoring
Loyola continued a trend from the last two years in the opener against Delaware, making adjustments at halftime to outscore their opponents in the third quarter and second half. The Greyhounds outscored the Blue Hens 5-1 in the third quarter and 8-4 after the break.
Loyola outscored its opponents 69-52 after halftime last season (including two overtime goals) despite being outscored 54-39 in the first halves of games.
The Greyhounds scored 34 third-quarter goals to their opponents’ 27. In 2010, they outscored opponents 41-24 in the third quarters of games and 76-55 overall after halftime.
Dalton At The ‘X’
After Delaware won all four face-offs in the first quarter, J.P. Dalton dominated play at the ‘X’ for the Greyhounds in the final three quarters. He finished the game by winning 14-of-25 (.560), going 14-of-21 (.667) in the last 45 minutes.
Dalton, who entered the game having won 30-of-58 restarts in his first three years at Loyola, won 5-of-7 in both the second and third quarters as Loyola gained and extended the lead.
Four players made their regular-season debuts for Loyola against Delaware and four made their first starts in Greyhound uniforms.
Sean O’Sullivan (Army) and Chris Layne (North Carolina) both took the field and started for the first time as Greyhounds after transferring from other schools. Kevin Ryan saw action in the midfield for the Greyhounds after not playing in 2011 as a freshman.
Nikko Pontrello made his collegiate debut as the only freshman to play for Loyola. He responded well, scoring a goal and assisting on Phil Dobson’s first collegiate tally. Michael Bonitatibus and Justin Ward also made their first collegiate starts for the Greyhounds.
Greyhounds Picked Second In ECAC
The Greyhounds were picked to finish second in the ECAC Lacrosse Leagues by the head coaches of their peer schools. Loyola received 54 points in the poll, trailing only Denver University which had 61.
Mike Sawyer returns in 2012 as the team’s leading scorer after finishing last year with 31 goals and five assists for 36 points. He took 124 shots during the 2011 season, 59 more than anyone else on the team.
The Greyhounds also welcome back one of their top scorers from two seasons ago. Eric Lusby, who will play as a graduate student this year, returns to the lineup after missing all but two games last year following a knee injury in the 2010 NCAA Championships. Lusby scored 20 goals and assisted on five from the Greyhounds’ midfield in 2010.
Two other players who scored 10 or more goals a year ago are back in 2012 for the Greyhounds Patrick Fanshaw returns after tallying 12 goals, six of the extra-man variety, last season, and Davis Butts is also back after tallying 10 goals and five assists.
Loyola’s midfield will be bolstered by the addition of two transfer student-athletes that have joined the program. Juniors Chris Layne and Sean O’Sullivan will suit up for the Greyhounds after spending previous seasons at North Carolina and Army, respectively.
Layne, who is the younger brother of former Loyola All-American Steve Layne, scored five goals as a sophomore on the Tar Heels’ second midfield after playing in 15 games as a short-stick midfielder during his first season in Chapel Hill.
O’Sullivan played two seasons at West Point, scoring 16 goals as a midfielder in 2010. He earned All-Patriot League Second Team honors following his sophomore season, as well.
The Greyhounds return two starters on close defense, their top two long-stick midfielders and top three short-stick defensive middies in 2012, forming a cohesive group on the defensive end of the field.
Senior co-captain Dylan Grimm is joined on defense by another returning starter, junior Reid Acton. Grimm finished his first year as a starter, 2011, with 22 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers, while Acton tallied 19 and 15, also in his first season as a starter.
The duo is joined by sophomore Joe Fletcher who played in 13 games and started one as a freshman. Fletcher saw considerable time as an extra-man and fourth defender for the Greyhounds a year ago.
Scott Ratliff and Kevin Moriarity created a formidable long-stick midfield duo last year, combining for 50 ground balls and 22 caused turnovers. Ratliff also added three goals and three assists on the offensive end of the field.