ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Brian Sherlock picked up the ground ball off the second overtime’s opening faceoff, raced into the box and fedJustin Ward on the low left side, and Ward found Brian Schultz across the crease to score the game-winner for top-ranked Loyola University Maryland in a 7-6 win over the U.S. Naval Academy on Saturday afternoon in Patriot League action.
Ward’s assist on the goal 12 seconds into the second overtime was his third of the game, capping a day in which he led all players with four points. Sherlock had a Loyola-high two goals.
A late third-quarter goal by Ward gave the Greyhounds (10-1 overall, 6-0 Patriot League) their first advantage of the game. He came around a Pat Laconi screen and launched an 11-yard shot that pushed Loyola in front, 6-5, with 2:53 to go in the quarter.
Navy (4-6, 3-4), however, scored the fourth quarter’s lone goal, a Gabe Voumard bouncer with 9:32 on the clock. The Midshipmen also went man-up after Voumard was hit late and Loyola was assessed a one-minute penalty.
The Greyhounds, however, killed the penalty – Navy did not score on three extra-man possession in the game – and got the ball back after a Midshipmen penalty.
Navy blocked a Nikko Pontrello shot on the ensuing possession, but Pontrello caused a penalty on the Midshipmen clear to get possession back for the Greyhounds. Against a Navy zone, Loyola took seven shots, but none found the net.
John Conners made three of his 14 saves in the series, one hit a post and three others went wide of the cage.
Conners saved a Zack Sirico attempt with less than two minutes to go, giving Navy possession and an attempt for a final shot. Following a Midshipmen timeout, however, Navy gave the ball back to the Greyhounds after a 30-second violation. Loyola did not get a shot off, and the game headed to overtime.
Navy won the faceoff to start extra time and settled into its offensive end. A T.J. Hanzsche shot went high 1:11 into the period, but the Midshipmen backed up the shot to retain possession.
Off the restart, Navy worked the ball to Sam Jones on the mid-right side, and he found a cutting Tucker Hull on the doorstep with a pass. Hull whipped a behind-the-head shot that hit the elbow of Loyola goalkeeper Jack Runkel before hitting hard off the far post and away from harm.
Loyola cleared the ball after Joe Fletcher picked up one of his seven ground balls, but Conners was there again to save a Pontrello shot. Navy cleared, and Patrick Kenna had a shot go wide, giving possession back to Loyola, but a turnover late thwarted a Greyhounds’ scoring chance.
To start the second overtime, Graham Savio flipped the ball toward Sherlock who collected it and beat everyone form midfield into the box before finding Ward.
Loyola led for just eight-minutes, 23 seconds of regulation, and Navy led 3-1 after the first quarter on goals by Hull, Voumard and Jones. Sherlock scored one of his two on a 13-yard sidearm rip off a Ward assist 1:33 into the first, but it was the Greyhounds’ only goal of the stanza.
Tyler Albrecht got Loyola within a goal at 11:33 in the second, scoring off a left-alley dodge, but Pat Durkin tallied a Navy goal less than a minute later.
Loyola made it 4-3, a score the teams would take to the locker room, when Ryan Fournier caused a turnover on the defensive end and then scored from Pat Laconi’s assist on the offensive side at 6:50.
Hull tallied the second half’s first goal, running from behind the cage to score low with 11:32 on the third-quarter clock, but Romar Dennis dodged past a player and fed Sherlock for a bounce-shot goal at 8:43, pulling Loyola back within one.
The Greyhounds then tied the game for the first time since early in the first quarter when Kevin Ryan scored an extra-man goal off a Ward pass with 4:02 on the clock. Ward would then give Loyola the lead 1:09 later.
Despite Navy winning 10-of-17 faceoffs, Loyola had a 29-24 advantage in ground balls, and the Greyhounds committed three fewer turnovers, 14-11. Runkel posted eight saves in goal for the Greyhounds.
Laconi caused three turnovers, and Fletcher had seven ground balls and a caused turnover. He also held Hanzsche without a point for the first time in 15 games. It is the second week in a row Flethcer had primary marking responsibilities on a player who had a long point streak snapped. Colgate’s Ryan Walsh had scored in 42-straight prior to last weekend.
The Greyhounds return to Ridley Athletic Complex for the first time in three weeks for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday, April 12, against Boston University.