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Top-ranked Loyola escapes with double-overtime victory over Navy in men's lacrosse


by Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Loyola won just seven of 17 faceoffs on the day, but its seventh came at the right time and set up the game-winning goal by senior attackman Brian Schultz to lead the No. 1 ranked Greyhounds (10-1, 6-0 Patriot League) to a 7-6 double-overtime victory over Navy (4-6, 3-4 PL) Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

It's the third straight game between the two programs that has been decided by one goal and the second to go into extra minutes. In 2010, Loyola topped the Mids in overtime, 8-7, in Annapolis and in 2011 the Greyhounds made a furious comeback to oust Navy, 9-8, in Baltimore.

“I'm so proud of my guys and the way we battled for 60 minutes and then some,” said third-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “It certainly hurts to lose a double overtime game, but we feel like we are right there.”

Navy jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the opening quarter, as senior attackmen Tucker Hull (Charlotte, N.C.) and Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.), along with junior middie Gabe Voumard (Cape May, N.J.) tallied goals.

Loyola got to within one when sophomore midfielder Tyler Albrecht charged his way in from the left wing and poked his shot in from the crease with 11:33 to play in the second.

Just over a minute later, however, the Mids pushed their lead back to two at 4-2 when senior midfielder Pat Durkin (Germantown, Md.) slipped his defender and scored off a diving shot from the right crease.

Loyola, though, would get the final say in the opening half, as pat Laconi fed Ryan Fournier on a transitional goal off a Navy turnover to trim the deficit to one (4-3) at the break.

Navy came out of the locker room and again gained some breathing room when Hull scored his second goal of the game, this one on a goal-line extended shot that somehow made its way past Loyola keeper Jack Runkel.

The Greyhounds put together a 3-0 run that began with a sneaky bouncer by redshirt freshman Brian Sherlock that got past Navy keeper John Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) at the 8:43 mark.

The Mids were not only called for a one-minute slash at the 4:26 mark, but at the same point lost starting defenseman Chris Fennell (Milford, N.J.) to a leg injury for the remainder of the game. The Greyhounds, who are ranked 12th nationally in extra-man offense, converted on the man-up set with senior attackman Justin Ward finding Kevin Ryan wide open five yards out for the game-tying goal.

Just over a minute later (2:53), Ward utilized a screen set by Pat Laconi to get free and fired off a 10-yarder that gave Loyola its first lead of the game a 6-5.
After more than 16 minutes without a goal, Voumard solved the Mids' drought by punching in the game-tying shot from the left wing and was hit hard by junior defenseman David Manning, who in turn was hit with a one-minute unnecessary roughness flag. Navy, though, was unable to take advantage of the extra-man opportunity and the game would eventually go into extra minutes.

Navy freshman Brady Dove (Stevensville, Md.) won the faceoff to open the extra frame and got three solid looks. The first by sophomore attackman T.J. Hanzsche (Berwyn, Pa.) went high, however, off the restart Jones would find Hull cutting up the middle and his behind-the head shot skirted off Runkel's elbow before sailing off the far post.

“We hit the pipe, oh so close,” added Sowell. “Instead of it ziggin', if it zags it's a different outcome. At the end of the day, though, you have to give Loyola credit.”
Loyola's Nikko Pontrello took a shot on the other end, but Connors was there on the stop and Navy once again had a shot for the game-winner. Sophomore attackman Patrick Keena (Vienna, Va.) saw his shot go wide, however, and a late Loyola turnover would end the first overtime period.

 

Loyola rookie Graham Savio won the faceoff to open the second overtime session and flipped the ball in the direction of Sherlock, who gathered up the ball and began the foot race to the goal. Sherlock scurried to the box, finding Ward who then found Schultz for the game-winner.

It was a difficult end to a day that saw John Connors play his best game in goal, making 14 saves, several at point-blank range, against a team that is ranked No. 5 nationally in goals per game (13.70). Navy is only the second team (Army) this season to hold the Greyhounds to single digits.

“John was outstanding today,” said Sowell. “If you get the type of goal play like we got today out of John, it puts us in a position to be in every game. The challenge will be for him to play at that level moving forward, but he showed today he is certainly capable.”

In addition to Connors, senior defenseman Nik Mullen (Wading River, N.Y.) played perhaps the game of his career holding Pontrello, the team's leading goal scorer with 37, in check. Pontrello came into the game ranked No. 2 in the country in goals per game (3.70) and having scored at least two goals in every contest this season. He came up short on all four of his shots on the afternoon.

Voumard and Hull led the Mids with two goals apiece, while Jones and Durkin each contributed a goal.

Dove, meanwhile, finished the game winning 10 of the 17 draws and moved into a tie for seventh on Navy's single-season faceoff wins list with 126. It's the most wins by a Navy player since Mikelis Visgauss won 126 during the 2008 campaign. Dove needs just three wins to move into a tie for fifth on the list alongside William Wallace who was one of 15 members off the 2004 Navy lacrosse team who returned to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday to be honored for their run at the National Championship 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, despite their loss to the Greyhounds, the Mids are assured a spot in the six-team Patriot League Tournament. Boston University, Lafayette and Holy Cross are all 1-5 with two conference games to be played. However, Navy would win the tie breaker against all three having beaten each of the three this season. Loyola has secured at least a share of the regular-season title and one of the top two seeds in the tournament in what is its first season as a member of the Patriot League. The only unbeaten in the conference at 6-0, the Greyhounds have already beaten Army and Lehigh who each have five wins.

The Mids will be back in action next Saturday when they travel to West Point to battle the Black Knights in the annual Army-Navy Star Game. Faceoff is slated for 2:00 pm at Michie Stadium and will be televised live by CBS Sports Network. The game will be also carried live by WNAV 1430 AM/99.9 FM with Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller on the call.

* * * *

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Brian Sherlock picked up the ground ball off the second overtime's opening faceoff, raced into the box and fed Justin Ward on the low left side, and Ward found Brian Schultz across the crease to score the game-winner for top-ranked Loyola in a 7-6 win over the U.S. Naval Academy on Saturday afternoon in Patriot League action.

Ward's assist on the goal 12 seconds into the second overtime was his third of the game, capping a day in which he led all players with four points. Sherlock had a Loyola-high two goals.

A late third-quarter goal by Ward gave the Greyhounds (10-1 overall, 6-0 Patriot League) their first advantage of the game. He came around a Pat Laconi screen and launched an 11-yard shot that pushed Loyola in front, 6-5, with 2:53 to go in the quarter.
 
Navy (4-6, 3-4), however, scored the fourth quarter's lone goal, a Gabe Voumard bouncer with 9:32 on the clock. The Midshipmen also went man-up after Voumard was hit late and Loyola was assessed a one-minute penalty.

The Greyhounds, however, killed the penalty – Navy did not score on three extra-man possession in the game – and got the ball back after a Midshipmen penalty.

Navy blocked a Nikko Pontrello shot on the ensuing possession, but Pontrello caused a penalty on the Midshipmen clear to get possession back for the Greyhounds. Against a Navy zone, Loyola took seven shots, but none found the net.

John Conners made three of his 14 saves in the series, one hit a post and three others went wide of the cage.

Conners saved a Zack Sirico attempt with less than two minutes to go, giving Navy possession and an attempt for a final shot. Following a Midshipmen timeout, however, Navy gave the ball back to the Greyhounds after a 30-second violation. Loyola did not get a shot off, and the game headed to overtime.

Navy won the faceoff to start extra time and settled into its offensive end. A T.J. Hanzsche shot went high 1:11 into the period, but the Midshipmen backed up the shot to retain possession.

Off the restart, Navy worked the ball to Sam Jones on the mid-right side, and he found a cutting Tucker Hull on the doorstep with a pass. Hull whipped a behind-the-head shot that hit the elbow of Loyola goalkeeper Jack Runkel before hitting hard off the far post and away from harm.

Loyola cleared the ball after Joe Fletcher picked up one of his seven ground balls, but Conners was there again to save a Pontrello shot. Navy cleared, and Patrick Kenna had a shot go wide, giving possession back to Loyola, but a turnover late thwarted a Greyhounds' scoring chance.

To start the second overtime, Graham Savio flipped the ball toward Sherlock who collected it and beat everyone form midfield into the box before finding Ward.

Loyola led for just eight-minutes, 23 seconds of regulation, and Navy led 3-1 after the first quarter on goals by Hull, Voumard and Jones. Sherlock scored one of his two on a 13-yard sidearm rip off a Ward assist 1:33 into the first, but it was the Greyhounds' only goal of the stanza.

Tyler Albrecht got Loyola within a goal at 11:33 in the second, scoring off a left-alley dodge, but Pat Durkin tallied a Navy goal less than a minute later.

Loyola made it 4-3, a score the teams would take to the locker room, when Ryan Fournier caused a turnover on the defensive end and then scored from Pat Laconi's assist on the offensive side at 6:50.

Hull tallied the second half's first goal, running from behind the cage to score low with 11:32 on the third-quarter clock, but Romar Dennis dodged past a player and fed Sherlock for a bounce-shot goal at 8:43, pulling Loyola back within one.

The Greyhounds then tied the game for the first time since early in the first quarter when Kevin Ryan scored an extra-man goal off a Ward pass with 4:02 on the clock. Ward would then give Loyola the lead 1:09 later.

Despite Navy winning 10 of 17 faceoffs, Loyola had a 29-24 advantage in ground balls, and the Greyhounds committed three fewer turnovers, 14-11. Runkel posted eight saves in goal for the Greyhounds.

Laconi caused three turnovers, and Fletcher had seven ground balls and a caused turnover. He also held Hanzsche without a point for the first time in 15 games. It is the second week in a row Flethcer had primary marking responsibilities on a player who had a long point streak snapped. Colgate's Ryan Walsh had scored in 42-straight prior to last weekend.

The Greyhounds return to Ridley Athletic Complex for the first time in three weeks for a 1:00 p.m. game on Saturday, April 12, against Boston University.