Loyola University Maryland will play Fairfield University in the ECAC Championship Game on Friday, May 4, at 4 p.m. (Mountain) time at Peter Barton Stadium in Denver, Colo.
The top-seeded Greyhounds defeated No. 4 seed University of Denver, 14-13, in overtime Wednesday night, and the No. 3 seed Stags topped Ohio State University, 8-7, in the other semifinal.
On The Tube And Web
The ECAC Championship Game will be broadcast live on ESPNU with Mark Larson and Dale Drypolcher calling the action.
The action can also be seen worldwide on ESPN3, the broadband arm of the ESPN. Click here to read an access guide to ESPN3, and click here to watch the ESPN3 broadcast.
Loyola and Fairfield will play for the 15th time in series history when the teams meet in the ECAC Championship Game. The Greyhounds hold a 12-2 advantage in the all-time series, but the Stags are 1-0 when they meet in the ECAC Championships.
The Greyhounds rallied from a two-goal fourth-quarter deficit to score the last four game to defeat Fairfield, 8-6, on April 7, 2012, in the regular-season meeting between the teams. The Stags took a 6-4 lead with 11:59 left in regulation on a John Snellman goal, but Davis Butts assisted a J.P. Dalton goal eight seconds later to start the 4-0 run that led to the win in Connecticut.
ECAC Championships History
Loyola is 1-1 in the brief two-year history of the ECAC Championships after defeating Denver, 14-13, in overtime on Wednesday night.
Last year, the second-seeded Greyhounds lost to Fairfield, the No. 3 seed, 11-9, in the ECAC Semifinal that was also held in Denver.
School-Record Tying Win
Loyola’s victory over Denver on Wednesday night was the team’s 13th of the season, tying the 1998 team for most in school history.
This season’s 13 wins came in 14 games, one fewer the same number it took the 1998 team. That squad finished with a 13-2 record after falling in the NCAA Semifinals.
In The Polls
Loyola’s first loss of the season last Saturday, to then-No. 10 Johns Hopkins, dropped the Greyhounds from the top spot nationally where they resided for two weeks. The Greyhounds are now No. 3 in both the USILA coaches and Inside Lacrosse/Nike poll.
Fairfield is ranked 16th in both polls.
It took Loyola 30 years of NCAA Division I play (the Greyhounds moved into the division in 1982) to play back-to-back overtime games, but now it has experienced the pleasure twice in two years.
Last year, Loyola defeated Fairfield, 7-6, in overtime on April 9, and it then won 6-5 in four extra periods at Georgetown on April 17, marking the first time it had played back-to-back overtime games since joining Division I.
The Greyhounds have now played two-straight overtime games, losing on April 28 at home to Johns Hopkins and defeating Denver on Wednesday night.
Loyola led Denver 13-6 early in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night, but the Pioneers reeled off seven goals in a row to tie the game at 13-13 with 3:30 to play. J.P. Dalton won the next faceoff, however, and Loyola retained possession for the rest of regulation, getting off two shots that went wide.
In overtime, Scott Ratliff picked up the ground ball on the first faceoff of overtime, raced to goal and scored eight seconds into the extra frame to give Loyola a 14-13 win.
Denver’s 7-0 run to tie the game was the largest run the Greyhounds have allowed this season, topping 5-0 runs that Fairfield and Johns Hopkins put up.
Scott Ratliff had his second multi-goal game of the season on Wednesday night, raising his season totals to eight goals and six assists.
Ratliff is nearing the Loyola single-season for points by a long pole player. Current assistant coach Matt Dwan set the record during his senior season in 1995 when he tallied 11 goals and five assists while earning All-America honors.
Ratliff, a Tewaaraton Award semifinalist along with teammate Mike Sawyer, is second nationally this season in goals and points by a long pole, and his six assists are tops in the country. Bryant’s Mason Poli leads all long poles this year with 19 goals and 24 points.
Spreading Out The Scoring Wealth
Loyola’s first 11 goals on Wednesday night were scored by 11 different players. Eric Lusby, Phil Dobson and Scott Ratliff finished the game with two goals, and eight others had one.
All three members of the Greyhounds’ first midfield – Davis Butts, Chris Layne and Sean O’Sullivan – scored goals. They received four goals from the four players who make up the second midfield line – Dobson (2), Pat Byrnes and Nikko Pontrello (J.P. Dalton did not score). Extra-man attackman Kevin Ryan scored, and two of the team’s three attackmen – Mike Sawyer and Lusby (2) – recorded goals. Ratliff scored twice in transition, and short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins added one. The Greyhounds’ other attack player, Justin Ward, did not score but had a game-high three assists.
Scoring From Different Places
Kevin Ryan scored his first career goal on Wednesday night, taking a Justin Ward pass form behind the crease and one-timing a shot into the net. Ryan did not play as a freshman in 2011 but has seen action in 12 games this year from the midfield and on extra-man possessions.
Nikko Pontrello added his third goal of the season and second versus the Pioneers. He also had the game-tying goal in the third quarter of the regular-season match-up that started Loyola’s 5-1 run to close the victory.
Phil Dobson recorded his second career multi-goal game, both coming against top-flight competition. He recorded a pair earlier this season against ACC Champ Duke. Josh Hawkins added a man-up goal after Mike Sawyer caused a turnover and Justin Ward picked up the ground ball and fed Hawkins. The goal was Hawkins’ fifth of the year, and he also had his first assist of the season on a first-quarter Scott Ratliff goal.
Twelve In A Row Ties Mark
Loyola’s 12-straight to start the season tied the school record for consecutive victories, matching the number put up by the 1998 (March 14-May 17) and 1999 (March 6-May 8).
It also matched the best start to a season, equaling the 1999 team that finished the regular-season unblemished at 12-0.
Ratliff Named ECAC Defender Of The Year
Junior long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, marking the second time in four years a Greyhounds’ long pole has received the award. P.T. Ricci earned the honor in 2009, as well.
Ratliff leads the ECAC with 30 caused turnovers (2.31 per game) and is seventh nationally in that category, and he is tops on the Greyhounds with 52 ground balls (4.0 per contest).
The native of Marietta, Ga., also has scored six goals and has six assists this year, keying the Greyhounds’ transition game on many occasions. He earned ECAC Co-Specialist of the Week twice during the year and was the Defensive Player of the Week early in the season.
Ratliff is one of two Greyhounds, along with Mike Sawyer on attack, who is a semifinalist for the Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s top player.
Toomey Tabbed ECAC Coach Of The Year
Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey was named the ECAC Coach of the Year for the third time in his seven-year career. This season, Toomey guided the Greyhounds to a 12-1 mark during the regular-season and the ECAC regular-season crown with a 6-0 mark in conference play.
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.
Earlier this season, Toomey won the 50th game of his coaching career, becoming the fourth coach in Loyola history to win 50 or more – Dave Cottle (181-70, 1983-2001), Charles Wenzel (62-104, 1954-1970), Jay Connor (61-46, 1975-1982). Toomey’s .611 winning percentage trails only Cottle’s .721 at Loyola.
Five Loyola players earned All-ECAC Lacrosse League honors form the conference’s coaches on Monday. Long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff earned a spot as a defender on the First Team, where he was joined by Mike Sawyer on attack and Davis Butts in the midfield.
Sawyer led the ECAC during the regular-season, and was third nationally, in goals (41) and goals per game (3.15). Butts scored 15 goals and assisted on 11 from the Greyhounds first midfield line while also playing a role on the wings during face-offs with 33 ground balls.
Attack Eric Lusby and defender Joe Fletcher were tabbed to the All-ECAC Second Team. Lusby is second on the team and in the top-20 nationally with 34 goals, and he also has 10 assists this season. Fletcher came on as one of the top lock-down defenders around, earning Midseason All-American honors from Inside Lacrosse last month. He has 25 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers entering the post season.
Ratliff, Sawyer Named Tewaaraton Semifinalists
Juniors Scott Ratliff and Mike Sawyer were named to the Tewaaraton Award semifinal list as the game’s top players, making Loyola one of five schools – joining Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Massachusetts and Virginia – to have two players make the 25-man list.
Loyola is also one of six schools to have at least one male and one female semifinalist, as sophomore Marlee Paton made the women’s list from Loyola. The winners of both awards will be selected on May 31, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
Mike Sawyer scored four goals on April 21 at Hobart and added one each against Johns Hopkins and Denver, raising his season total to 42 through 14 games. Against Hobart, he became the first Loyola player to reach 40 goals in a season since Tim Goettelmann and Gavin Prout scored 50 and 41, respectively, in 2000.
In addition to being just the third Loyola player to score 40-plus this century, Sawyer is the seventh Greyhound to reach the mark since Loyola moved to NCAA Division I status in 1982.
Loyola used runs of three-plus goals at important junctures of its 14 games, helping the Greyhounds to wins each time. In all, Loyola has scored three or more in a row on 28 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.
At Fairfield, Loyola scored the final four goals of the game to rally from a 6-4 deficit to win 8-6. The Greyhounds then scored four in a row during the third and fourth quarters at Denver that brought them from down 8-7 to a 12-9 victory.
Versus Johns Hopkins, the Greyhounds scored four in a row, holding the Blue Jays scoreless for the last 14:13 of regulation, to tie the game at 9-9, sending it to overtime.
Loyola scored the first four goals of the ECAC Semifinal game against Denver and then tallied three-straight after the Pioneers pulled within 4-2. The Greyhounds then reeled off five in a row during the third quarter to take a 13-6 lead.
On The Flip Side
Conversely, the Greyhounds have allowed a run of three or more goals just nine times this year, with the most recent coming when Denver scored three on two occasions. Only Denver (seven), Johns Hopkins (five), Fairfield (five), Air Force (four) have scored more than three in a row this year.
Following six of the nine opponent runs of three or more, Loyola has answered in kind with a run of 4-0 or better.
Sawyer, Lusby Form Rare Tandem
Graduate student Eric Lusby and junior Mike Sawyer have formed the top attack tandem in the ECAC Lacrosse League this year and one of the most balanced in the nation. The duo has combined for 78 goals in 14 games this season, an average of 5.6 per game.
Sawyer has scored 42 goals, and his 3.0 goals per game average is third-best in Division I. Lusby, meanwhile is right behind with 36 goals and a 2.57 goals per game mark, a number that is tied for 14th in the country. Loyola is one of two schools to have two players in the top 14 of goals per game nationally.
The Greyhounds have not had two players score 36 or more goals in the same season since 2000 when Tim Goettelmann set the school single-season record with 50, and Gavin Prout tallied 41. As a side note, the Goettelmann-Prout duo has gone on to highly successful professional careers. Goettelman recently retired from Major League Lacrosse as the league’s all-time leading scorer with 268 goals in 11 seasons. Prout has been an MLL Champion and has scored 314 National Lacrosse League goals to go with 625 assists as a multiple-time all-star.
On The EMO
This season, the Greyhounds are ranked second in the nation in man-up offense, scoring 52.6-percent of the time. Only Lehigh (.553) has a better mark this year.
The last time Loyola finished above .500 in man-up offense was in 1997 when it converted 39-of-77 (.506).
The Greyhounds have now outscored opponents 51-20 in the third quarters of games and 94-52 overall this year in the second half (including overtime).
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.