Top-Ranked Loyola Edges Mids in Double Overtime
John Connors anchored a defensive effort that held Loyola to its lowest (tied) goal output of the season.
April 5, 2014
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 the Navy men’s lacrosse team (4-6, 3-4 PL) Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial 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.
### Go Navy ###