Loyola University Maryland will play the middle game of a three-game road trip on Saturday, April 14, in The Centennial State. The Greyhounds will take on Denver University at 7 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time) at Peter Barton Stadium.
Denver has won the first two meetings between the teams, each coming in the last two seasons since the Pioneers joined the ECAC Lacrosse League. Denver won the first meeting, 12-4, at Invesco Field in 2010, and the Pioneers then took a 12-8 decision last season in Baltimore.
In The Polls
Loyola checked in at No. 4 for the third week in a row in the USILA Coaches’ Poll this week, and the Greyhounds are in the same No. 4 spot of the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media rankings for the second-consecutive week.. The coaches’ poll mark is Loyola’s highest ranking since it was third in the April 1, 2002, poll with a 7-0 record after downing Towson, 15-7.
Denver is currently ranked 10th in the coaches version, and eighth in the media poll.
Loyola used a late rally to win its 10th game of the season last Saturday, an 8-6 victory at then-No. 14 Fairfield. The Greyhounds scored the last four goals of the game to come back from a 6-4 fourth-quarter deficit.
It was the first time this year that Loyola had trailed in the fourth quarter, and the 4-4 tie going into the final stanza was the first time it had not led outright entering the frame.
The Greyhounds held Fairfield scoreless for the final 11 minutes, 59 seconds of action.
Defense Standing Tall
The Greyhounds’ defense is ranked fifth in NCAA Division I with a 7.0 goals allowed per game mark, as they have not allowed more than eight goals in a single game this season.
Loyola is the only team in the nation with the distinction of not having allowed eight or more goals in a game. The Greyhounds are one of three teams (Massachusetts and Notre Dame are the others) who have allowed fewer than 10 in each outing this season.
Ward Steps Up Scoring
Justin Ward has raised his scoring numbers over Loyola’s last two games, complimenting fellow attack members Mike Sawyer and Eric Lusby. Against Ohio State and Fairfield, Ward combined for three goals and four assists for a team-high seven points during that stretch.
Of his three goals, two were during critical fourth-quarter stretches in both games. Against Ohio State, he rolled around a Sean O’Sullivan screen at goal-line extended, stepped in and shot from seven yards out, scoring to put Loyola up 7-5.
At Fairfield, Ward tied the game at 6-6, after Loyola had trailed 6-4, with his second goal of the game at 7:19, and he then assisted on Mike Sawyer’s eventual game-winner less than two minutes later.
Ward, who had one assist as a freshman last season, leads the Greyhounds with 17 assists this season, and he is third on the team with 23 points.
Runkel Honored For Third Time
Sophomore goalkeeper Jack Runkel was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in five weeks on Monday after posting 12 saves and allowing just six goals against Fairfield.
Runkel, who took over as the Greyhounds’ starter in the fourth game of the season, is the only ECAC defender to be honored on more than one occasion this year, and along with Scott Ratliff and Reid Acton, Loyola defenders have earned the award in five of seven weeks.
In just under 500 minutes of action between the pipes this season, Runkel has played to a 7.10 goals against average and a .565 save percentage. He is sixth in Division I in goals against average and 14th in save percentage.
Defensive Unit Helping Out
While Jack Runkel has picked up three conference awards this year, much of the credit can also go to the defensive unit as a whole. Opponents have taken 216 total shots while Runkel has been in goal this year, but just 124 have been on goal.
In all, opponents have managed just 152 shots on goal against the Greyhounds this year. Loyola is holding opponents to a .260 shot percentage, 11th best in the nation.
Loyola’s defense is fourth in Division I in caused turnovers per game, averaging 9.7 a contest. Four Greyhounds – Scott Ratliff (2.1), Reid Acton (1.3), Joe Fletcher and Dylan Grimm (both 1.1) – are averaging more than one per game. Ratliff ranks 11th in Division I in the category.
Loyola’s 8-7 victory on March 31 against Ohio State marked the first time this year that the Greyhounds have played a game decided by less than three goals. Previously, Loyola’s closest victory was 11-8 on March 3 at Bellarmine, and no other game was within five goals.
Ten Or More Streak Snapped
The Greyhounds had scored at least 11 goals in each of their first eight games of the 2012 season, marking the longest stretch of games with 10 or more goals they have put together since March 24-May 12, 2001. Ohio State, however, held Loyola to just eight goals.
Loyola was outshot for the first time this season against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes tallied 33 shots to the Greyhounds’ 27.
Ohio State, however, managed to put just 15 shots on goal, and goalkeeper Jack Runkel made saves on eight.
Loyola, meanwhile, had 20 shots on goal, a season-best 74-percent of its overall shots. Previously, Loyola had outshot opponents by a minimum of nine in the first eight games of the year.
Acton Draws Recognition
Junior defender Reid Acton was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Week after recording five ground balls and a career-best five caused turnovers against Ohio State.
Acton’s primary marking responsibility against the Buckeyes was leading scorer Logan Schuss who entered the game averaging 3+ goals and 4+ points per game. Acton limited him to two goals and an assist, and his final goal came with just nine seconds left and Loyola leading by three.
Loyola used runs of three-plus goals at important junctures of its first 10 games, helping the Greyhounds to wins each time. In all, Loyola has scored three or more in a row on 20 occasions this season.
Loyola used four three-goal runs against Duke, including one three-goal streak that put Loyola up 4-1 at the beginning of the second quarter. The Greyhounds never trailed after that initial three-goal run and extended their lead to 13-5 after its fourth three-goal spurt of the game.
The Greyhounds had their longest run in almost two years against Air Force, scoring 10 in a row to open the second half. The last time Loyola scored 10 or more in a row was on March 20, 2010, when it had 14 straight against Air Force.
Loyola then used a 6-0 run to break a 5-5 tie early in the third quarter with Georgetown on the way to a 11-6 victory.
The Greyhounds then scored seven in a row on the back end of a 10-1 run last Saturday at UMBC, and after falling behind 3-2 in the second quarter against Ohio State, the Greyhounds strung together four in a row to go ahead 6-3 by the end of the third quarter.
At Fairfield, Loyola scored the final four goals of the game to rally from a 6-4 deficit to win 8-6.
On The Flip Side
Conversely, the Greyhounds have allowed a run of three or more goals just five times this year, with the most recent coming when Fairfield scored five unanswered. Only the Stags (five) and Air Force (four) have scored more than three in a row this year. Every time an opponent has logged those runs, Loyola has answered in kind with a run of 4-0 or better.
Lusby, Ratliff Join Tewaaraton Watch List
Loyola’s Eric Lusby and Scott Ratliff were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, joining fellow Greyhound Mike Sawyer who was named to the group before the season. Lusby is second on the team with 27 goals and 35 points, while Ratliff paces the team in caused turnovers with 17, and his 39 ground balls are tied for the team lead.
Loyola continued a trend of strong second-half play this season by outscoring Fairfield, 4-2, in the fourth quarter.
The Greyhounds have now outscored opponents 37-12 in the third quarters of games and 67-33 overall this year in the second half.
The second-half scoring continues a trend from the last two seasons. Last year, Loyola outscored opponents, 69-52, after halftime (including two overtime goals), and 77-56 two years ago.
Lusby Matches Career-High
Eric Lusby scored three times during Loyola’s second half run and finished the Georgetown game with five goals, matching his career-high set on March 3 at Bellarmine. He followed that with his fifth hat trick of the season, scoring three at UMBC.
Lusby has scored at least one goal in each of Loyola’s eight games this season. The graduate student returned to game action in the season-opener 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.
Lusby reset his career-high at Bellarmine, tallying five goals in the victory to go with one assist, and added two more at Michigan.
Through Loyola’s first eight games, Lusby is second on the team with 27 goals and 35 points.
Sawyer, Runkel Honored Again
For the second time this season, Mike Sawyer and Jack Runkel earned ECAC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors on the same day, as the pair was honored on Monday following the Greyhounds’ wins over Georgetown and UMBC.
Sawyer scored three goals against the Hoyas, and he then scored four-straight Loyola goals and finished with five at UMBC. Sawyer also matched his career-best with two assists against the Retrievers.
Runkel paced the Loyola defense in the two games, playing to a 5.50 goals against average. He made a career-best 13 saves in the win over UMBC.
Toomey Wins 50th
Head coach Charley Toomey earned his 50th-career win Wednesday, March 7, as Loyola beat Michigan, 15-8.
Toomey, who is in his seventh season, has led Loyola to eight-plus wins in each of the last three seasons and has had the Greyhounds finish .500 or better in all seven seasons since coming to the Evergreen campus.
Sawyer Shows Same Form
Mike Sawyer has picked up where he left off a year ago, leading the team with 29 goals and 36 points through the first eight games. Sawyer led Loyola last season with 31 goals and 38 points.
Sawyer tied a then-career-high with five goals in the team’s, 15-8, win at Michigan, before scoring a new personal-best six goals against Duke.
After scoring five goals against UMBC, he now has 16 career multi-goal games and the 19 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. He also was named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List.
Ratliff Honored For Second Time
Loyola long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff was named the ECAC Co-Specialist of the Week on March 19 after turning in impressive numbers in a win over Air Force. Ratliff scored twice and had an assist while picking up seven ground balls against the Falcons. Earlier this season, Ratliff earned ECAC Defensive Player of the Week laurels after the Greyhounds’ opener against Delaware.
Ratliff is currently sixth among active long poles in career scoring. He has seven goals and five assists for 12 points. This year, he has three goals and two assists, as well as a team-leading 32 ground balls.
Bonitatibus, Runkel Both Win First Starts
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.
Jack Runkel made his first career start against Michigan and also won his initial outing as a starter. He tallied five saves against the Wolverines, and he then posted a career-high 12 against Duke.
Record At Ridley
After going 4-1 at Ridley Athletic Complex last season, the Greyhounds have opened their third year at the stadium with six wins at home. Loyola is now 14-3 all-time at Ridley.
The Greyhounds wrap up their three-game road trip with an excursion on April 21 to Geneva, N.Y., where they will wrap up ECAC play with a 12 noon game at Hobart.