Loyola Looks to Stay Perfect Saturday at Fairfield

April 06, 2012 | WNST Staff

Opponent Fairfield Stags
Date Saturday, April 7, 2012
Time 1:00 p.m.
Location Fairfield, Conn. | Lessing Field
TV | Radio Hounds Unleashed
Series Record Loyola leads, 11-2
Last Meeting Fairfield 10, Loyola 9 – May 5, 2011 at Denver/ECAC Semi.

Game Data

The Greyhounds embark on a three-game roadtrip that will take them from Connecticut to Colorado in ECAC Lacrosse League action when they play at 1 o’clock on Saturday, April 7, at Fairfield University.

Series History

Loyola and the Stags will meet for the 14th time when they face-off on Lessing Field Saturday. The Greyhounds hold an 11-2 lead in the all-time series, but the teams split two meetings last year with Loyola winning, 7-6, in overtime during the regular-season, but Fairfield picking up a 10-9 decision in the ECAC Semifinals in Denver.

In The Polls

Loyola checked in at No. 4 for the second week in a row in the USILA Coaches’ Poll this week, and the Greyhounds moved up one spot in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media rankings to No. 4. The coaches’ poll mark is Loyola’s highest ranking since it checked in at third in the April 1, 2002, poll with a 7-0 record after downing Towson, 15-7.

Fairfield, meanwhile, is ranked 14th in both the USILA and Inside Lacrosse polls.

Close Call

Loyola’s 8-7 victory last Saturday against Ohio State marked the first time this year that the Greyhounds have played a game decided by less than three goals. Previously, Loyola’s closest victory was 11-8 on March 3 at Bellarmine, and no other game was within five goals.

Ten Or More Streak Snapped

The Greyhounds had scored at least 11 goals in each of their first eight games of the 2012 season, marking the longest stretch of games with 10 or more goals they have put together since March 24-May 12, 2001. Ohio State, however, held Loyola to just eight goals when the teams met last Saturday.

New Feeling

Loyola was outshot for the first time this season on Saturday against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes tallied 33 shots to the Greyhounds’ 27.

Ohio State, however, managed to put just 15 shots on goal, and goalkeeper Jack Runkel made saves on eight.

Loyola, meanwhile, had 20 shots on goal, a season-best 74-percent of its overall shots.

Previously, Loyola had outshot opponents by a minimum of nine in the first eight games of the year.

Acton Draws Recognition

Junior defender Reid Acton was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after recording five ground balls and a career-best five caused turnovers last Saturday against Ohio State.

Acton’s primary marking responsibility against the Buckeyes was leading scorer Logan Schuss who entered the game averaging 3+ goals and 4+ points per game. Acton limited him to two goals and an assist, and his final goal came with just nine seconds left and Loyola leading by three.

Near The Top Of The Rankings

While Loyola had its season-low total of eight goals on Saturday against Ohio State, the Greyhounds’ defense played nearly to its season average by allowing just seven goals.

As of this Monday, Loyola is ranked sixth in NCAA Division I with an average of 7.11 goals allowed per game. The Greyhounds slipped to ninth (from a tie for fifth last week) in scoring offense, as they are now averaging 12.44 goals per game through nine contests.

Loyola is second nationally in scoring margin (+5.33), just behind Massachusetts (+6.22).

Sharing The Rock

No Loyola player has more than 6 assists (Justin Ward) through nine games, but nine players have at least four assists, and 14 have two or more. In addition to Ward’s 6, Sean O’Sullivan has nine, Davis Butts and Eric Lusby have eight, Mike Sawyer has seven, Chris Layne checks in with six, and Nikko Pontrello has five and J.P. Dalton and Pat Byrnes have four each.

With 78 assists this season, the Greyhounds lead Division I with 8.78 per game.

Ward Distributes

Justin Ward posted three assists in the win over Ohio State, two off his career-high of five set earlier this season against Towson. He now leads the team with 16 assists and is third with 20 points.

Ward also tallied a big goal for the Greyhounds, coming around screens by Mike Sawyer and Sean O’Sullivan to rip a seven-yard shot that put Loyola ahead 7-5 late.

More Than Last Year

This year’s team has already eclipsed last year’s total of 62 assists in just eight games. The Greyhounds’ 112 goals this season are already more than the 110 the 2011 team put up in 13 games a year ago.

Big Runs

Loyola used runs of three-plus goals at important junctures of its first nine games, helping the Greyhounds to wins each time. In all, Loyola has scored three or more in a row on 18 occasions this season.

Loyola used four three-goal runs against Duke, including one three-goal streak that put Loyola up 4-1 at the beginning of the second quarter. The Greyhounds never trailed after that initial three-goal run and extended their lead to 13-5 after its fourth three-goal spurt of the game.

The Greyhounds had their longest run in almost two years against Air Force, scoring 10 in a row to open the second half. The last time Loyola scored 10 or more in a row was on March 20, 2010, when it had 14 straight against Air Force.

Loyola then used a 6-0 run to break a 5-5 tie early in the third quarter with Georgetown on the way to a 11-6 victory.

The Greyhounds then scored seven in a row on the back end of a 10-1 run last Saturday at UMBC.

After falling behind 3-2 in the second quarter against Ohio State, the Greyhounds strung together four in a row to go ahead 6-3 by the end of the third quarter.

On The Flip Side

Conversely, the Greyhounds have allowed a run of three or more goals just four times this year, the most recent coming when Ohio State tallied three unanswered in the second quarter last Saturday to go up 3-2. Only one team (Air Force) has scored four in a row.

Every time an opponent has logged those runs, Loyola has answered in kind with a run of 4-0 or better.

Lusby, Ratliff Join Tewaaraton Watch List

On Wednesday, Loyola’s Eric Lusby and Scott Ratliff were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, joining fellow Greyhound Mike Sawyer who was named to the group before the season.

Lusby is second on the team with 27 goals and 35 points, while Ratliff paces the team in caused turnovers with 17, and his 39 ground balls are tied for the team lead.

Second-Half Success

Loyola continued a trend of strong second-half play this season by outscoring Ohio State, 3-0, in the third quarter.

The Greyhounds have now outscored opponents 37-10 in the third quarters of games and 63-29 overall this year in the second half.

The second-half scoring continues a trend from the last two seasons. Last year, Loyola outscored opponents, 69-52, after halftime (including two overtime goals), and 77-56 two years ago.

Lusby Matches Career-High

Eric Lusby scored three times during Loyola’s second half run and finished the Georgetown game with five goals, matching his career-high set on March 3 at Bellarmine. He followed that with his fifth hat trick of the season, scoring three at UMBC.

Lusby has scored at least one goal in each of Loyola’s eight games this season. The graduate student returned to game action in the season-opener after missing all but two games of the 2011 season. Now a graduate student, Lusby tore his right ACL in the 2010 NCAA First Round game against Cornell. He attempted to come back last year, but he saw limited action against Navy and Towson and was shut down to rehab the injury for the remainder of the season.

Lusby burst back onto the scene against Delaware, scoring the Greyhounds’ first goal of the game on an extra-man opportunity, and the 2010 All-ECAC First Team member tallied three more in the second half.

Lusby reset his career-high at Bellarmine, tallying five goals in the victory to go with one assist, and added two more at Michigan.

Through Loyola’s first eight games, Lusby is second on the team with 27 goals and 35 points.

Sawyer, Runkel Honored Again

For the second time this season, Mike Sawyer and Jack Runkel earned ECAC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors on the same day, as the pair was honored on Monday following the Greyhounds’ wins over Georgetown and UMBC.

Sawyer scored three goals against the Hoyas, and he then scored four-straight Loyola goals and finished with five at UMBC. Sawyer also matched his career-best with two assists against the Retrievers.

Runkel paced the Loyola defense in the two games, playing to a 5.50 goals against average. He made a career-best 13 saves in the win over UMBC.

Toomey Wins 50th

Head coach Charley Toomey earned his 50th-career win Wednesday, March 7, as Loyola beat Michigan, 15-8.

Toomey, who is in his seventh season, has led Loyola to eight-plus wins in each of the last three seasons and has had the Greyhounds finish .500 or better in all seven seasons since coming to the Evergreen campus.

Sawyer Shows Same Form

Mike Sawyer has picked up where he left off a year ago, leading the team with 29 goals and 36 points through the first eight games. Sawyer led Loyola last season with 31 goals and 38 points.

Sawyer tied a then-career-high with five goals in the team’s, 15-8, win at Michigan, before scoring a new personal-best six goals against Duke.

After scoring five goals against UMBC, he now has 16 career multi-goal games and the 19 multi-point effort of his tenure at Loyola.

Before the season, Sawyer was named to the Preseason All-ECAC Team and was named to the Face-Off Yearbook Preseason All-America Honorable Mention. He also was named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List.

Dominant At The ‘X’

In his first year as the Greyhounds’ primary face-off man, senior J.P. Dalton has continued Loyola’s tradition of excellence at the ‘X’.

Through eight games, Dalton ranks eighth nationally in face-off percentage, winning restarts at a .620 clip (124-of-200). As a unit, the Greyhounds entered the week fourth-best in the nation at .612.

Dalton is tied for the team lead with 39 ground balls with one of his primary wings, Scott Ratliff. Josh Hawkins, who returned from injury to make his season-debut on March 10 against Duke, has 24 in five games, and Pat Laconi has 15. Davis Butts has also seen time on the wing and has 23 ground balls this season.

Ratliff Honored For Second Time

Loyola long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff was named the ECAC Co-Specialist of the Week on Monday after turning in impressive numbers in last Saturday’s win over Air Force. Ratliff scored twice and had an assist while picking up seven ground balls against the Falcons.

Earlier this season, Ratliff earned ECAC Defensive Player of the Week laurels after the Greyhounds’ opener against Delaware.

Ratliff is currently sixth among active long poles in career scoring. He has seven goals and five assists for 12 points. This year, he has three goals and two assists, as well as a team-leading 32 ground balls.

Sawyer, Runkel Earn ECAC Honors

Mike Sawyer and Jack Runkel were honored as ECAC Lacrosse Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week on March 12 following wins at Michigan and against Duke.

Sawyer scored 11 goals and had 14 points, setting career highs in both categories. He scored five goals and had six points in Michigan’s first-ever home game, before breaking those personal records with six goals and eight points in a win over Duke. He also picked up a career-high six ground balls, finishing the week with nine ground balls.

Runkel made the first two starts of his collegiate career, posting an 8.00 goals-against average and .515 save percentage to help the Greyhounds in two wins. Playing less than three minutes between the pipes as a freshman last season, he started the Michigan game and held the Wolverines to eight goals, while making five saves. He then made a career-high 12 saves against a Duke team that has played in the last five Final Fours.

Bonitatibus, Runkel Both Win First Starts

Junior Michael Bonitatibus made his first collegiate start in goal for the Greyhounds against Delaware after having played less than two minutes prior to this season.

Bonitatibus, who played 65 seconds in his collegiate debut last year at Duke, made seven saves for the Greyhounds and allowed just eight goals. He also picked up five ground balls and caused two turnovers.

Bonitatibus became the first Loyola goalkeeper to win his starting debut in nearly 11 years. The last was Mark Bloomquist who also defeated Delaware, 8-7, on February 24, 2001.

Jack Runkel made his first career start against Michigan and also won his initial outing as a starter. He tallied five saves against the Wolverines, and he then posted a career-high 12 against Duke.

Record At Ridley

After going 4-1 at Ridley Athletic Complex last season, the Greyhounds have opened their third year at the stadium with six wins at home. Loyola is now 14-3 all-time at Ridley.

What’s Next

Loyola continues its stretch of road games with a 7 o’clock (Mountain) game at Denver on Saturday, April 14.

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