Sawyer, Pontrello Combine For 11 Goals As MLAX Downs No. 4 Duke
BALTIMORE – Matt Sawyer scored a career-high six goals, and Nikko Pontrello added five, as No. 5 Loyola University Maryland defeated fourth-ranked Duke University, 14-7, in front of 3,912 fans at Ridley Athletic Complex and a national television audience on CBS Sports Network Sunday night.
The Greyhounds (5-1 overall) trailed, 4-3, after the first quarter, but they scored 11 of the final 14 goals in the victory.
Sawyer scored three of his goals during a 5-0 Loyola run that started the second quarter, and his four in the first half matched half of his eight career goals entering the game. Pontrello scored in each quarter and had the first two of the third quarter.
Jordan Wolf’s goal with 2:50 left in the first quarter gave Duke (4-2) a 4-3 advantage that it would hold for the remainder of the period, but Sawyer face-dodged a defender and came free down the left alley to score his second of the game 56 ticks into the second quarter.
That goal sparked five unanswered goals that would stretch into a 7-1 Greyhounds run.
Pontrello backed down a defender on the left side of the crease and scored from close in to put Loyola in front, ultimately for good. Sawyer scored just under four minutes later, recording his second man-up goal of the night off a Justin Ward assist, and Brian Schultz was the recipient of a Ward cross-field pass at 8:14, and the senior ripped a hard shot inside the opposite post.
Ward’s assist on the Schultz goal was the 85th of his collegiate career, moving him into first-place in Loyola’s NCAA Division I history (since 1982) and passing the previous best by Jim Blanding. Ward fiished the game with five points on a goal and four assists.
Schultz’s goal at 8:14 made it a 7-4 Loyola advantage, and Sawyer tacked on another goal, unassisted after a long dodge to push the lead to four with 2:49 left in the first half.
Christian Walsh snapped Duke’s scoreless stretch at 16 minutes, 18 seconds, hitting a high-to-low shot from 12 yards out off a Dionne assist, bring the Blue Devils within three, 8-5, at halftime.
Loyola started the third quarter two men up after three penalties were called on a Duke player, and another was whistled on another. Pontrello tallied a goal for the Greyhounds on the extra-man opportunity at 13:14, his first of two-straight goals in the third quarter.
Duke got a goal back as Deemer Class scored on a Myles Jones assist with 4:14 left in the third quarter, but Loyola did not allow a Blue Devils goal for more than 11 minutes.
By that time, Sawyer, Pontrello and Ward had all scored in the fourth quarter, and Loyola was up 13-7 after Jones tallied one for the Blue Devils with 8:11 left.
Sawyer tacked on his sixth goal with 3:40 left in the game. It marked the second time this season that a Loyola player has scored six in a game (Pontrello at Holy Cross). It is also the second time a member of the Sawyer family has scored six against Duke at Ridley Athletic Complex. His older brother, three-time All-American Mike, tallied six goals and two assists in a 13-8 Loyola win on March 10, 2012.
Defensively, the Greyhounds held Duke’s two leading goal-scorers, Jordan Wolf (12 goals, 10 assists entering the game) and Dionne (12, 2) to one goal each.
Jack Runkel made nine saves on 16 shots on goal, while Loyola outshot the Blue Devils, 39-31.
Duke won 13-of-23 faceoffs in the game, but Loyola won the ground ball category, 35-34. Joe Fletcher led the Greyhounds with seven ground balls, while Pontrello, Runkel, Brian Sherlock, Graham Savio and Jason Crane each had three.
The Greyhounds move back into Patriot League play on Saturday, March 15, when they host the U.S. Military Academy at 1 p.m.