#1 Loyola faces Navy for first time as conference foe Saturday

April 04, 2014 | WNST Staff

Loyola Greyhounds at Navy Midshipmen

Saturday, April 5, 2014  |  12:00 p.m.

Annapolis, Md. | Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

Quick Hits About The ’Hounds

Loyola University Maryland plays the second of two-straight Patriot League road games on Saturday, April 5, when it travels to nearby Annapolis, Md., for a 12 noon game versus the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Greyhounds’ current nine-game winning streak is tied for the nation’s longest with Cornell. The Big Red are 9-0 this season.

Two Loyola players – Joe Fletcher and Jack Runkel – won Patriot League weekly honors on Monday, bringing the Greyhounds’ total to 16 out of a possible 28 awards this year.

On Monday, Runkel became the first player to win five Goalkeeper of the Week awards in a single year, and Fletcher is the first to earn four or more Defensive Player of the Week laurels.

Justin Ward and Nikko Pontrello combined for nine points and were on the scoring or assisting end of 7-of-10 Loyola goals Saturday at Colgate.

Pontrello continues to lead the nation in total goals scored with 37 this season. Ward is second in total assists with 33. Pontrello is second in goals per game (3.7), and Ward is third in assists per game (3.3).


Last Time Out

Jeff Chase tied Saturday’s game at then-No. 17 Colgate University with 12-yard shot 5:31 into the third quarter, starting a 4-0 Loyola run that led to a 10-8 Patriot League victory over the Raiders.

After Chase’s goal, Justin Ward scored back-to-back goals, and Nikko Pontrello added one of his three to put Loyola in front, 8-5, with 2:31 left in the period.

Colgate got two goals, however, before the end of the frame to trail by just one entering regulation’s final 15 minutes.

Graham Savio won the fourth quarter’s opening faceoff and ran into the box only to see his shot clang off the crossbar. Ryan Fournier secured a high ground ball and fed Pontrello on the crease, however, for a goal 11 seconds into the quarter.

Matt Clarkson responded with a goal at 13:33 for Colgate, but Ward fed Matt Sawyer for a 13-yard shot with 4:05 left on the clock to put Loyola up two.

The Raiders got off four shots on the following possession, but none were from inside 12 yards, and Jack Runkel made a save on the only one on goal.

Runkel finished with 12 saves, while Pat Laconi caused three turnovers.

Follow The Action

Saturday’s game, and all non-televised Patriot League games, will be broadcast on the Patriot League Network. Additionally, all of Loyola’s non-televised home games will be available on the free HD network.

Log on to PatriotLeague.tv to watch the home games on your computer, web-enabled televisions and most mobile devices.


In The Polls

With Saturday’s win at then-No. 17 Colgate, Loyola remained in the No. 1 spot of both the USILA coaches and Warrior/Inside Lacrosse media polls.

The Greyhounds have been ranked No. 1 at some point in each of the last three seasons, most recently in the first polls of the 2012 season.


Series History

Loyola and Navy will meet for just the ninth time in series history despite being located less than 26 miles from each other as the crow flies. The teams have met only two times during the regular-season since 1943. Navy leads the all-time series, 5-3, but Loyola has won each of the last three games.

The Greyhounds and Midshipmen played a two-game series to open the 2010 and 2011 seasons with Loyola coming away victorious in both. The Greyhounds had only the slightest margins in each game, winning 8-7 in 2010 and 9-8 a year later.

Navy led the February 19, 2011, meeting by five, 7-2, with 5:53 to play in the second quarter, but Loyola held the Midshipmen scoreless for more than 28 minutes to rally for the win. Patrick Fanshaw tied the game at 7-7 with three seconds left in the third quarter, and he then scored the game-winner with 1:08 left in regulation.


Get To Ten

Since Charley Toomey became head coach at Loyola in 2006, the Greyhounds have scored 10 or more goals on 64 occasions. After defeating Colgate, 10-8, on Saturday, Loyola has won 81.3 percent of those games (52-12).


Since 2012

Loyola has the best winning percentage in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse since the start of the 2012 season. The Greyhounds are 38-7 during that stretch (18-1 in 2012, 11-5 in 2013 and 9-1 this season) for a .844 mark.

Only Duke has won more games (40) than Loyola during the run, but the Blue Devils are second to the Greyhounds in winning percentage by more than eight percent (40-12, .769).


Chart Toppers

A pair of Greyhounds attackers are at or near the top of two offensive categories through games of Monday, March 31, in both total goals and assists. Nikko Pontrello paces Division I with 37 goals, while Justin Ward is second with 33 assists.

The duo is the No. 2 point-scoring tandem in the country with 87 combined points (Ward, 44; Pontrello, 43). Albany’s Lyle (48) and Miles (44) have a combined 105.


Schedule Says

Loyola has jumped out to a 9-1 start this season and the nation’s number one ranking while playing one of the best schedules in Division I. Loyola’s first 10 opponents are 54-35 overall as of March 30, and their combined winning percentage of .607 is the fifth-best opponent winning percentage in the nation. Only the opponent winning percentages of Yale (.768), Syracuse (.734), Penn (.732) and Albany (.615) are better.


Pontrello Putting Up Points

Nikko Pontrello had his 10th multi-goal game is as many contests to open the season on Saturday when he scored three against Colgate. Through games of Monday, March 31, Pontrello leads the nation in total goals with 37.

He scored two in the season-opener at Virginia and then had three each against Penn State and Towson before scoring a career-high six goals at Holy Cross. He then tallied four at Lehigh, five against Duke, three at Georgetown and five versus Lafayette.

Two of his goals have been game-winners in one-goal contests. Pontrello scored 19 seconds into overtime to give Loyola a 12-11 win at Penn State, and he then tallied one with 51.4 seconds left in regulation to push the Greyhounds past Georgetown, 10-9.

Pontrello leads the Greyhounds with 37 goals and is second behind Justin Ward for the team-lead with 43 points through 10 games.

He leads the Patriot League and is second nationally in goals per game (3.70), while he is second and 11th in points per game (4.30).


Stopping Shots

After opening the season with a .214 save percentage in the opener at Virginia, Jack Runkel has played to a .643 mark, saving 99 out of 156 shots on goal he’s faced. In a six-game stretch  against Towson, Holy Cross, Lehigh, Duke and Army, Runkel made 61 saves and allowed just 26 goals (.701).

The senior goalkeeper, who earned 2012 NCAA Championships All-Tournament honors, has a goals against average of 7.24 this season and a cumulative saves percentage of .607 through nine games. He is fourth in the nation in both saves percentage and  goals against average.

In three years as a starter for the Greyhounds, Runkel has a 7.81 goals against average and .560 saves percentage; he is fifth in Loyola’s Division I history (since 1982) with 400 career saves. Runkel’s record between the pipes is 36-6. He is second in wins among active goalkeepers, trailing only Maryland’s Niko Amato who has 42 victories. Amato (as of Monday), however, Amato is a four-year starter, while Runkel did not start until early in his sophomore season.

Runkel picked up his fourth-straight Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week honor on March 17, becoming the first player in League history to win any of the weekly honors (Offensive, Defensive, Goalkeeper or Rookie) four-consecutive times. His honor on March 31 made him the first player in League history to earn five in a season.


Record-Setting Quarterback

Justin Ward has continued to be the quarterback of the Greyhounds’ offense this year, passing out 27 assists in the last seven contests. He is second in the nation in total assists (33), and he is also third in the country and tops in the Patriot League, with 3.30 assists per game this year. His 33 assists are already fifth-most in school Division I single-season history, five shy of tying Sean Heffernan’s single-season record from 1994.

With four assists against Duke, Ward set Loyola’s career Division I record (since 1982) in total assists, eclipsing the mark of 83 set from 1989-92 by Jim Blanding. Following his three at Colgate, Ward now has 100 in his career. Gary Hanley holds the all-time Loyola record with 160 assists. Ward is also tied for ninth in school Division I history in total points with 150.

Ward is in his third year as a starter on attack for the Greyhound after earning USILA All-America Honorable Mention last year after finishing tops on the team in points (62) and assists (35) and second in goals (27). His 62 points ranked tied for fifth in school single-season Division I history, and his 35 assists check in at third on that list.


Taking Care Of The Ball

Loyola continues to lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game, averaging 10.2 through 10 contests. The Greyhounds have committed 1.6 fewer turnovers per game than the second-place team in the nation, North Carolina.


Near The Top At Both Sides

The Greyhounds are also one of just two teams to be in the top five of scoring offense and defense at the Division I level. Loyola’s goals per game (14.11) rank fourth, and its goals allowed (7.33) are tied for fifth.

North Carolina is the other team in the top five for both, matching the Greyhounds in goals allowed while it is second in goals per game (14.78).

While it is tied for fifth nationally in scoring defense, Loyola is just fourth in the Patriot League in the category. Army (1st, 5.50), Lehigh (2nd, 6.67) and Colgate (4th, 7.11) all rank ahead of the Greyhounds nationally. In conference games, however, Loyola and Army are tied at 5.25 per contest.


Man-Up Success

Loyola has converted on just under half of its man-up possessions this year, scoring 14 goals on 30 opportunities. Its .467 success rate is good for 12th in NCAA Division I through games of Monday, March 31.

Nikko Pontrello leads the way with five man-up goals, while Kevin Ryan has three and Matt Sawyer and Brian Schultz each have two.

Eight of Loyola’s extra-man goals have been assisted by Justin Ward.


Fletch, White And Blue

Senior defender Joe Fletcher was the lone current collegiate player selected as part of one of 52 players who made up the United States Men’s National Team training roster this fall, and the day before Loyola’s season-opener, he found out he is one of 30 players who made the cut for the team that will compete at the 2014 World Cup in Denver.

Against Holy Cross, Fletcher set a career-high with eight ground balls, eclipsing his previous total of seven set on three different occasions. In a pair of games against Towson and the Crusaders, he had 11 ground balls and three caused turnovers.

He later had seven ground balls and causing a turnover against Duke. He also was primarily responsible for holding the Blue Devils’ All-American attacker Jordan Wolf to one goal.

Versus Colgate, Fletcher was matched up against Ryan Walsh, and he held the Raiders’ leading scorer without a goal or assist for the first time in his career, a total of 42 prior games.

Fletcher has been named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week four times this year, the most any player in conference history has earned the award. He is second on the Greyhounds with 44 ground balls and caused turnovers (14). His 59 career caused turnovers are third all-time at Loyola behind the 90 of P.T. Ricci and 88 of Scott Ratliff.


Not Just Defensive Midfield

Short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Laconi was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week on March 3 after matching his career-high with two goals at Lehigh.

The senior, who is a team co-captain and Preseason All-American, had a goal an assist versus Army and a goal at Georgetown, bringing his season totals to six goals an one assist. He now has 11 goals and 10 assists in his four-year career.

Laconi posted four ground balls, matching his career-high, and three caused turnovers at Colgate, the final of each coming with less than 25 seconds remaining to help seal the win. His team-leading 17 caused turnovers this season have brought his career total to 59, fourth most in school history.


Games Of Runs

Loyola has used significant runs in all 10 of its games this season, and it has had five stretches of seven or more unanswered goals. In all the Greyhounds have 17 runs of 3-0 or better. Here is a look at their four best scoring stretches:

Opponent Run Time Covered   Opponent Run Time Covered
at Holy Cross 14-0 38:58   Lafayette 12-0 26:53
Towson 10-0 16:38   at Virginia 9-0 14:18



Five-Plus For Two

Matt Sawyer scored six goals, and Nikko Pontrello tallied five for the Greyhounds on March 9 against Duke, marking the first time in over a decade that two Loyola players have scored five or more in the same game.

The last pair to do so was Gavin Prout (six) and Tim Goettelmann (five) in a 14-9 win on March 25, 2000, at 14th-ranked Brown University.


Schultz Stepping Up

In his first year as a starter on attack for the Greyhounds, senior Brian Schultz has parlayed his opportunity into a solid start to the season. Through 10 games, Schultz has scored 18 goals, second most on the team, and assisted on nine, second behind team-leader Justin Ward.

Entering this season, Schultz had seen most of his playing time on extra-man opportunities for the Greyhounds, posting a combined three goals and five assists.


Tewaaraton Watch Trio, Senior CLASS Award Pair

Two of Loyola’s senior co-captains were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List when it was released in February. Joe Fletcher and Justin Ward were among the 50 players nationally to receive recognition.

They were also two of 20 players nationally to be named candidates for the Senior CLASS Award that seniors who have performed at a high level athletically and in the classroom and who have used their platforms as student-athletes to make positive impacts in the community.

In addition to the senior duo that is on the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, junior attacker Nikko Pontrello was also named to the group on March 20.