Loyola University Maryland plays the first of five-straight games on the road Friday night when it visits Durham, N.C., for a 7 o’clock game at Duke University.
The Greyhounds are coming off three consecutive games at home, but they will be away from Ridley Athletic Complex until April.
Friday will be the 25th meeting all-time between the Blue Devils and the Greyhounds, with Duke holding a 14-10 advantage in the series.
Duke had won five-straight over Loyola and eight of nine, before the Greyhounds defeated the Blue Devils, 13-8, on March 10, 2012, in Baltimore.
In that game, Mike Sawyer scored career-highs of six goals and eight points, and Eric Lusby posted three goals and two assists for Loyola.
The Greyhounds used a 3-0 run over a stretch of four-plus minutes in the first and second quarters to break open a 4-1 lead that they would stretch to 7-4 before halftime. They then tallied the first three goals of the second half and six of the first seven to lead 13-5 less than four minutes into the fourth quarter.
The series dates back to 1946 and the team’s have played at least once every season since 2000.
In The Polls
Loyola sits at No. 4 in both the USILA Coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media polls for the second week in a row.
Entering the season, It was the first time in the polls’ existences that the Greyhounds have been ranked No. 1 to start the year.
Bellarmine is receiving votes in both polls.
Last Time Out
Jack Runkel made 11 saves, and Loyola’s offense scored four straight spanning both halves, as the Greyhounds held off Bellarmine University for an 8-6 win last Saturday in the Greyhounds’ 2013 ECAC Lacrosse League opener.
Runkel made a kick save on a one-versus-one chance by a Bellarmine midfielder 71 seconds into the game to ignite the Greyhounds’ defense.
Mike Sawyer scored all three of his goals during the 4-0 run that he started with an unassisted goal with 1:46 left in the first half to put the Greyhounds in front, 4-2. He then added the first two goals of the second half, and Loyola led 7-2 with 11:17 left in the third quarter.
The Knights scored the next three goals to close to within two, 7-5, with 8:23 left in regulation, but Justin Ward scored one of his two goals less than three minutes later to help seal the win.
Runkel Grabs League Award
Jack Runkel was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, March 4, after posting 18 saves in a pair of Loyola wins last week. He had seven on Tuesday night in a driving rain against UMBC, and he then logged a season-best 11 on Saturday versus Bellarmine when he allowed just six goals.
It was the fourth time in his career that he has won the award from the ECAC after picking up the honor three times last season.
Back-To-Back Hat Tricks
Mike Sawyer recorded his second hat trick in as many games last week when he tallied three over a six-minute stretch of action against Bellarmine. He also finished with three goals against UMBC earlier in the week.
Sawyer scored with 1:46 to play in the first half and then twice within 20 seconds in the third quarter, his third goal of the day putting Loyola in front, 7-2, with 11:17 left in the stanza.
He now has 20 hat tricks in his career, one of only four players currently active to reach that plateau. Colgate’s Peter Baum leads the nation with 29, while Army’s Garrett Thul has 26. Saywer is tied with Cornell’s Steve Mock with 20 each.
Weekly Attack Numbers
Loyola’s starting attack posted considerable scoring numbers in the Greyhounds’ two games last week.
In the wins over UMBC and Bellarmine, Nikko Pontrello (4 goals, 4 assists), Mike Sawyer (6g, 1a) and Justin Ward (9g, 4a) combined for 28 total points on 19 goals and nine assists. All three had multiple-point games in both outings.
Davis Off The Ground
Davis Butts is second on the team this season with 22 ground balls and has picked up five in four of the Greyhounds’ five contests: Delaware, Maryland, UMBC and Bellarmine. He also had two in the game at Towson.
Through five games this season, he is already more than halfway to his total of 40 a year ago. He has also scored at least one point in every game this year and has three goals and five assists.
Ward’s Big Night
The foul weather did not slow Justin Ward on Tuesday against UMBC, as the junior finished with seven goals and three assists for 10 points. His goal and point outputs were career-highs.
He became the first player to score at least seven goals in a game since Gavin Prout tallied eight in a 19-11 win at Hobart on April 28, 2001.
Ward’s 10-point effort was the first 10-point game for a Greyhound since Tim Goettelmann tallied the same amount in a 19-9 win on March 25, 2000, against Fairfield. In that game, Goettelmann scored four goals and had six assists. Later that season, he would score seven goals on May 16 in the NCAA First Round against Notre Dame.
Ward’s seven goals brought his 2013 total to a team-high 12, matching the number he put up in 19 games last season. He is also tops on the team with nine assists and 21 points through four games.
His seven goals are tied with Ohio State’s Logan Schuss and Army’s Garrett Thul for the most in a game this season, and his 10 points tie Schuss for game-high honors, as well.
He then chipped in two goals and an assists on Saturday versus Bellarmine.
With 42 career assists, Ward is now tied for 19th in Loyola’s Division I history with Ben Hagberg who registered the same total from 1982-1983.
Pontrello Puts Up Points, Too
Somewhat lost in Justin Ward’s 10-point night against UMBC were the career-high numbers put up by fellow attacker Nikko Pontrello. The sophomore finished with career-bests in goals (3), assists (3) and points (6).
It was his first career multi-goal game, and his assists exceeded his previous best of two.
Pontrello now has three multi-point games this season after scoring a goal and assisting on two at Towson on February 20 and tallying one of each against Bellarmine. In four games, he has six goals, and his seven assists are second-most on the team.
Eighth To 100
With his goal at 9:25 in the third quarter against UMBC, Mike Sawyer became the eighth player in Loyola men’s lacrosse history to score 100 in his career, the seventh in the program’s Division I history.
Sawyer joins a list that includes Gary Hanley (151), Pat Lamon (133), Gewas Schindler (120), Tim O’Shea (115), Kevin Beach (114), John Carroll (112) and Chris Colbeck (108).
Loyola scored 21 goals on Tuesday night against UMBC, marking the first time since April 26, 2000, that the Greyhounds had recorded 20 or more in a game. That day, they went on the road and beat Villanova, 21-7.
The game at Villanova was just 11 days after Loyola beat Massachusetts, 21-10, at home. Prior to those two games, the last 20-point outing was on April 15, 1998, against Lehigh.
Layne Keeps Tallying Points
Chris Layne had his fourth multi-point game in as many contests this season, recording two goals and an assist for the Greyhounds against UMBC after tallying the same amount three days prior against Maryland. Through four game this year, Layne has seven goals and five assists.
Last season, he had a total of five multi-point games while finishing with 11 goals and 14 assists. With his two goals against Delaware, Maryland and UMBC, Layne has more than doubled his multi-goal games during his time at Loyola to five. He also had one as a sophomore in 2010 for North Carolina.
At Delaware in the season-opener, Layne tallied the first and last goals of the game for the Greyhounds, the initial coming at 12:17 in the first quarter, and the second with 4.4 seconds left in the fourth. He also assisted on a Scott Ratliff transition goal just over five minutes into the third quarter.
Spreading The Scoring
Nine Loyola players scored goals at Towson with seven recording two or more points, and nine was also the number of scorers versus Maryland and UMBC, and seven had two or more points against the Retrievers. Against Towson, Mike Sawyer and Justin Ward led the way with four points, Chris Layne and Kevin Ryan tallied three, while Nikko Pontrello, Sean O’Sullivan and Brian Schultz each recorded two.
Last season, Loyola had just two games with seven players scoring two or more points (Michigan, Air Force).
Two At The ‘X’
Loyola has had two primary faceoff men in their five games this season. Brendan Donovan started the season at Delaware and then took all but two of the 33 restarts against UMBC. He won 19-of-31 against the Retrievers where his 19 wins were the most by a Loyola player since Dan Kallaugher went 27-of-33 in the NCAA First Round at Albany on May 13, 2007.
In the Greyhounds’ other two games, Blake Burkhart took the majority of the restarts, winning 17-of-28, a career-high, at Towson, and 14-of-25 against Maryland.
Acton Active On Defense
Reid Acton tied his career-high on against Delaware with five caused turnovers to lead all players. He also picked up five ground balls, one shy of Scott Ratliff’s team-best six. He was part of a unit that held Delaware’s starting attack to just three goals in the game. Acton also caused five turnovers last season against Ohio State.
Acton has logged at least two ground balls in all but one game (at Towson) this year.
A Lot Of Everything
The adage that a player does a little bit of everything does not necessarily apply to long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff. The Loyola senior does a lot, as he led the team last year in ground balls (88) and caused turnovers (37), was fifth in goals (12) and seventh in assists (7). His 37 caused turnovers were second-most in Loyola history – behind P.T. Ricci’s 51 in 2009 – since the stats became official that year.
A Tewaaraton Award semifinalist, Ratliff was named the Most Outstanding Player of the ECAC Championships after scoring three goals, one a game-winner, and recording two assists and 16 ground balls.
Ratliff, who was also an USILA All-America Third Team member, an All-ECAC First Team honoree and ECAC Defensive Player of the Year.
He has scored a goal in three of the Greyhounds’ five games this year, at Delaware and versus Maryland and UMBC to bring his career totals to 18 goals and 10 assists. He is currently second among active long-poles in scoring behind Bryant’s Mason Poli who has 32 goals and 10 assists.
With his game-opening goal against Canisius in the NCAA First Round, he set the Loyola single-season record for long-pole scoring, surpassing the record of 16 points set by current assistant coach Matt Dwan his senior season in 1995 when he tallied 11 goals and five assists and earned All-America honors.
Loyola players are wearing three stickers on their helmets this season to remember those who have passed away. The stickers are in memory of Adam Pomper, a member of the 2012 team who passed away on June 12, 2012, Mandy O’Sullivan, mother of current players Sean and Ryan O’Sullivan who died in March 2012 from pancreatic cancer, and the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting in December 2012 where Loyola put on a youth lacrosse clinic in January.
Well-Represented In MLL Draft
Five members of the Loyola men’s lacrosse team were selected in the top 26 of the January 11 Major League Lacrosse draft. The Greyhounds tied Virginia for the most draft picks in the selection process.
Josh Hawkins and Mike Sawyer were both taken in the first round, going fifth and eighth overall to the Hamilton Nationals and Charlotte Hounds, respectively.
Scott Ratliff was the first pick of the second round, going ninth to the Boston Cannons, and Davis Butts was taken early in the third round, 19th overall to the Denver Outlaws.
Joining Hawkins in Hamilton will be Reid Acton, the team’s fourth round pick, 26th overall.
Sawyer will be joined in Charlotte by former teammate Eric Lusby who was the top waiver pick after the NCAA season ended in early June. After missing the majority of the MLL season with an injury, the NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Player made his MLL debut on July 28 at Long Island and scored a goal. He then tallied three goals in an August 11 win over Rochester.
Newtown Youth Clinic
Fourteen members of the Loyola men’s lacrosse team took time from their holiday vacation to travel to Newtown, Conn., for a clinic with the Newtown Lacrosse Association.
Led by freshman Jason Crane, the Greyhounds worked with more than 100 elementary and junior-high school-age players, many of whom attended Sandy Hook Elementary School where the shooting that killed 26 took place in December.
All six earned All-America honors last season with Sawyer earned Second Team honors and Ratliff was named to the Third Team. Acton, Butts, Fletcher and Acton earned Honorable Mention along with graduate student Eric Lusby.
In his first year as a starter, Fletcher was named to the NCAA and ECAC Championships All-Tournament Teams and earned a reputation as one of the top defenders in the nation. In 19 games as a sophomore, Fletcher caused 26 turnovers, second most on the team, and had 41 ground balls.
Hawkins has continued to be one of the top defensive midfielders in the nation and garnered considerable respect nationally for his play during the NCAA Championships. He earned NCAA All-Tournament honors and helped the Greyhounds limit Notre Dame and Maryland to a combined eight goals on Championships weekend. In addition to his six goals and two assists in 15 games last year, Hawkins was second on the team with 63 ground balls.
Sawyer was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s top player last season when he scored 52 goals and assisted on 10 more and was named the team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player. During the regular-season, he led the ECAC in goals and goals per game while earning All-ECAC First Team honors. He became the second player to score 50 or more goals in a season and was joined by a third on last year’s team.
Ratliff continued to be one of the top long-stick midfielders in the nation and set a Loyola scoring record for the position last year. He finished with 12 goals and seven assists, exceeding current Loyola Assistant Coach Matt Dwan’s previous record for a long-stick midfielder set in 1995. In addition to his scoring, he tallied 88 ground balls and 37 caused turnovers while earning ECAC Defensive Player of the Year, ECAC Championships Most Valuable Player, NCAA All-Tournament Team and team co-defenisve player of the year honors.
Butts was a first-line midfielder for the Greyhounds for the second year in a row. He excelled as a dodger and finisher and ranked fourth on the team in points (35) and third in goals scored (21). A versatile player, Butts also saw plenty of action on the wings of faceoffs and in the defensive midfield where he picked up 40 ground balls.
Acton will enter 2013 having started on the Greyhounds’ defense each of the last three years. He finished the 2012 season with 44 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers, while helping Loyola record a 7.21 goals allowed per game average, the fifth-best mark in Division I. The Greyhounds set a pair of defensive records during Championship Weekend, holding Notre Dame and Maryland to a combined eight goals in the two games and allowing the Terrapins just three in the title match.
Toomey Receives Morris Touchstone Award
Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey was named the ECAC Coach of the Year for the third time in his seven-year career, and in December, he received the coaches association’s Morris Touchstone Award as the national coach of the year.
The Greyhounds became the second team in USILA Coaches Poll history to start a season unranked and ascend to the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The only other team was Duke in 2007 – a year after the Blue Devils had their season suspended in March – which accomplished the feat after being unranked in the first poll, moving to second in the next version and first in the third. Duke was knocked from its perch as No. 1 that season when it lost to the Greyhounds at the First Four in San Diego.
The win over Canisius in the First Round was the 60th victory of his coaching career, becoming the fourth coach in Loyola history to win 60 or more – Dave Cottle (181-70, 1983-2001), Charles Wenzel (62-104, 1954-1970), Jay Connor (61-46, 1975-1982). Toomey’s .640 winning percentage trails only Cottle’s .721 at Loyola.
Last season, runs of three-plus goals were critical in the Greyhounds success, as they had runs of 3-0 or better in all 19 games. In all, Loyola scored three or more in a row on 37 occasions last year.
The Greyhounds have opened the 2013 season in similar fashion as they scored three-straight in the second quarter to take a 4-2 lead against Delaware after trailing, 2-1. They then had two runs of 3-0 or better at Towson.
Against UMBC, Loyola had a 3-0 first-half run before putting together a 10-0 stretch in the third and fourth quarters. The Greyhounds then had a 4-0 run that spanned both halves to help beat Bellarmine
The game against Maryland marked the first time since May 5, 2011, against Fairfield that the Greyhounds did not put up a run of 3-0 or better.
The Greyhounds outscored opponents 66-22 in the third quarters of games, and 123-63 overall in the second half (including overtime), last season. The second-half scoring continued a trend from 2011 when Loyola outscored opponents, 69-52, after halftime (including two overtime goals), and 77-56.
This year, Loyola is outscoring opponents 22-9 in the third quarter and 34-22 overall after halftime.