Loyola started its ECAC title defense in a successful way this afternoon with an 8-7 win against Penn State, in State College, Pennsylvania. Shane Koppens, playing in his first game of the season after being granted a 5th season by the NCAA, had a dominant debut as he and teammate Cooper MacDonnell each registered hat-tricks.
Starting in style has worked out pretty well for Loyola (2-1, 1-0) in their last two games. A week ago Loyola jumped out to a 4-0 lead in an 11-8 win over Towson, while today they attacked the Nittany Lions and All-American goalie Drew Adams with three unmatched first quarter goals. Koppens, a team captain for the second consecutive season got the Greyhounds on the board first, with MacDonnell, Loyola’s leading goal scorer from a year ago, tallying the latter pair.
The Greyhound defense, which was superb all afternoon, made the 3-0 score stand all the way until intermission.
Jimmy Daly’s 4th goal of the season with 5:12 left in the 3rd gave the ‘Hounds a 5-1 lead but then the Loyola would let momentum slip and Penn State went on to score 5 of the next 6 goals to get it to 7-6 with under 5 minutes left in the game.
They say big players step up in big moments… well when Koppens’ team needed a play he did just that and provided his 3rd goal of the afternoon just 40 seconds after Penn State came to within 1. The Nittany Lions would get one last ball by Hagelin with only 36 seconds remaining to put the 8-7 final in the books.
From central Pennsylvania, the ‘Hounds are back on the road and will be in Albany, New York to sleep this evening in anticipation for Tuesday afternoon’s game against Siena. The travel continues mid-week as Loyola will hop a flight to Durham, North Carolina to take on the Duke Blue Devils in a big match up next Saturday on WNST Radio.
– Shane Koppens, an honorable mention All-American last season for the Greyhounds, looks like he could be back on his way to similar recognition if he plays the rest of the year like he did this afternoon. Not only is he the player who Coach Charlie Toomey trusts most at the X in a crucial offensive possessions, but Koppens value extends past that. He also makes his whole fellow attack unit much more dangerous with the attention he attracts from opposing defenses.
– It was especially encouraging to see MacDonnell’s trio of goals. The junior attackman had just one score in the Notre Dame and Towson games and it almost seemed like he, maybe more than anyone else, was hurt by Koppens’ absence. Last year the two proved to be a lethal combination for opponents, with Koppens dishing and MacDonnell swishing.
– Aside from Koppens and MacDonnell’s 3, and Daly’s goal, Jake Wilcox added the only score for the Greyhounds. Taylor Ebsary and Matty Langan’s single assists were the only ones of Loyola’s 8 goals.
– Notably absent from the score sheet was Collin Finnerty, who had 10 points in Loyola’s first two games. He put 6 shots on net, but Drew Adams was able to see his shots from distance clearly and make stops on them all afternoon.
– Through the first three games of the season, goalie Jake Hagelin and face-off specialist John Schiavone have been consistently solid. Playing perhaps the two most important positions on the field, Hagelin stopped 10-17 shots on target by Penn State and Schiavone won 11-19 draws.
– Keeping an eye on the rest of the ECAC… Georgetown, who knocked off then #3 Maryland last weekend in College Park, got down 4-0 early and was stunningly upset by St. John’s 10-9. Also, in another surprise St. Joe’s knocked of Rutgers 10-7. The Scarlet Knight were picked third by ECAC Coaches in the preseason poll, but the state university of New Jersey is now 1-3 with losses against future Big East rival Villanova, #9 UMBC, and the previously mentioned bad L against St. Joe’s.