Runkel Saves 11 In 8-6 Win Over Bellarmine To Open ECAC Play
BALTIMORE – Jack Runkel made a kick save on a low, hard shot by Bellarmine University’s Brogan Hill just 71 seconds into play Saturday afternoon, sparking the Loyola University Maryland defense, and the junior goalkeeper finished with a season-high 11 saves as the Greyhounds defeated the Knights, 8-6, to open ECAC Lacrosse League action at Ridley Athletic Complex.
“We challenged our locker room before the game to give (Runkel) his first shot from 12 yards out to get him started,” Head Coach Charley Toomey said. “That’s not how it played out, and they had a guy that ran down the middle, and he made a great kick save that really got us going.”
The save on Hill’s shot caromed near midfield where fourth-ranked Loyola (4-1 overall, 1-0 ECAC) picked it up, but the teams traded turnovers before Loyola cleared it to a settled offensive set off a Scott Ratliff caused turnover.
After a Mike Sawyer shot went wide, Chris Layne redodged from the right side and put a high-to-high shot past Bellarmine’s Dillon Ward to get the Greyhounds on the scoreboard at 11:23.
Neither team was able to score for nearly eight minutes until the Knights (3-1, 1-1) broke through on a man-up possession. Cameron Gardner skipped a pass to Lance Robinson on the low right side, and Robinson bounced in a shot at 3:34 to tie the game at 1-1.
Early in the second quarter, Loyola scored twice in a 22-second span to post a two-goal lead. Nikko Pontrello tallied the first when he cut to the top of the crease where Justin Ward hit him with a pass that Pontrello one-timed past Ward at 13:09.
Ward then scored 22 ticks of the clock later, rolling from X to the right side where he hit a fading jump shot to push the Greyhounds’ advantage to 3-1.
Bellarmine got one back in transition off a Dillon Ward save later in the half. Dillon Ward stopped a Pat Laconi shot, and Bellarmine quickly cleared it to its offensive end. Michael Ward ripped a 10-yard shot off a Karsen Leung assist with 3:10 to go before halftime, making it a one-goal game.
Following that goal, however, Sawyer scored for Loyola at 1:46, rolling back toward the near post after a Bellarmine double came near the middle.
The Greyhounds went on extra-man immediately there after when Bellarmine was whistled for its third faceoff violation of the half, but Dillon Ward made a save on a Kevin Ryan shot, and the Knights cleared it successfully.
Runkel, however, picked off a Michael Ward pass from behind, and the Greyhounds called timeout in their offensive zone with just over 14 seconds to play before halftime.
Layne started the play on the far right side and sent a pass to Davis Butts at the top of the box. Butts reversed it to Sean O’Sullivan on the left, and O’Sullivan ripped a seven-yard goal to put Loyola in front, 5-2 at halftime.
The Greyhounds continued their run at the start of the third quarter, as Pontrello skipped a pass across the defense on the left side, and he scored from three yards out on a high-to-low shot with 11:37 on the clock in the third quarter.
Loyola took possession again with a faceoff win, and Sawyer scored his third during the 4-0 run, fending off a defender who was on his hands to put Loyola in front, 7-2, with 11:17 left in the third quarter.
Bellarmine, however, reeled off three in a row while holding Loyola scoreless for 20-minutes, 40-seconds.
Will Cary bookended a Michael Ward extra-man goal, and Cary’s second with 8:23 to play in regulation pulled the Knights within two, 7-5.
Justin Ward would snap the scoreless drought for Loyola rolling the crease on the left side and flipping a hard, nearly no-look shot past Dillon Ward for a goal with 5:54 left in regulation.
The Greyhounds then held off Bellarmine, allowing just one more goal by Michael Ward with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Loyola outshot the Knights, 46-25, but Dillon Ward made 16 saves for Bellarmine.
Butts helped Loyola to a slim, 26-25, advantage in ground balls, leading the team with five. Joe Fletcher had four, and Pat Frazier and Runkel each had three.
The game concluded a stretch of five games in 15 days for the Greyhounds. Loyola will be back in action on Friday, March 8, when it travels to Durham, N.C., for a 7 o’clock game at Duke University.