In sports played outdoors extreme weather can be a great equalizer, in lacrosse’s case, bitterly cold weather in early season games leads to low scoring, tight games. Today in Loudonville, New York in balmy 18 degree weather #14 Loyola took on Siena in a collegiate lacrosse game and to no one’s surprise… it was low scoring and tight.
The Greyhounds (3-1, 1-0) used six different goal scorers to register a 7-5 victory over Siena in the rare midweek game for Loyola. Defenses were able to take advantage of the severe conditions all afternoon while both offenses lacked the crispness both coaches would have hoped. However, to the Hounds’ credit they controlled the game as much as possible putting more shots on net, winning more face-offs at the X, and scooping up more ground balls.
Wins over Towson, Penn State, and now the Saints give Loyola a three game winning streak heading into a date with the Duke Blue Devils this Saturday in Durham, North Carolina.
The match-up will be very competitive and fast faced; both squads really like to get it up and down the field.
Last year Duke beat down Loyola twice, once in the regular season 21-8 and again in the NCAA Tournament 1st Round 12-7. Though, the team in blue Saturday will be a very very different one that ran the Greyhounds off the field last year. Unlike Loyola, Duke is reeling a bit coming into this game having suffered back-to-back losses to Harvard and Maryland, the latter coming in last weekend’s Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium. Gone are Zach Greer and John Danowski, Duke’s tag-team of first team All-Americans, and a senior class that led the Blue Devils to back-to-back Final Fours.
In my season preview I said that for Loyola to assure themselves a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament they would need to win 2 of their 5 big games this year: v. Notre Dame, at Duke, v. Syracuse, at Georgetown, and at Johns Hopkins. Having lost in Atlanta 10-9 to Notre Dame, Loyola really needs to have this game to be considered a legitimate big-time team. Of the five, while Georegtown might be the most important because is most likely will come with the AQ of an ECAC Championship, this weekend’s game is tremendously important because it might be the most winnable of what’s left.
Another note of interest, Collin Finnerty, Loyola’s leading scorer with 12 points, will be on back on the lacrosse field at Duke since he was a sophomore Blue Devil. Before tranferring to Loyola he was one of the three members of the squad wrongfully accused of rape in the Spring of ’06.
His attack unit will need to be precise to consistently score on a tough Duke defense. Shane Koppens getting two games under his belt, after being held out by the NCAA in the first two contest of the season, will go a long way in any amount of success the Greyhounds will enjoy.
WNST will have all the action from Durham this Saturday afternoon at 1pm. Former Greyhound All-American Chris Gunkle has the call on the flagship of Loyola College Lacrosse.