Loyola University Maryland renews a rivalry that is the third most-played in program history when it takes on Penn State University at 1 p.m. in University Park, Pa., on Saturday, February 15.
The game has been moved inside to Holuba Hall.
In the Greyhounds’ first game against No. 7 Virginia, five Greyhounds scored two goals,and five had three points. Of those players, three had their first multi-goal games, and two had their first multi-point outings.
Loyola returns five starters (attackers Nikko Pontrello and Justin Ward, defenders Joe Fletcher and Pat Frazier and goalkeeper Jack Runkel), as well as two of the top four players on the rope unit (short-stick midfielders Pat Laconi and Kyle Duffy) from last year’s team that finished with an 11-5 record.
This year’s three co-captains were all named to the Preseason All-American teams: Fletcher (1st), Ward (2nd), Laconi (HM).
Loyola, which is in its first year as a member of the Patriot League, was picked to win the conference. Fletcher and Ward were named to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team.
Loyola opened its 2013 season on Thursday, February 6, at the University of Virginia. The teams were tied, 4-4, after the first quarter, but the seventh-ranked Cavaliers held Loyola scoreless for the next two frames, and Virginia went into the fourth quarter with a 12-4 advantage.
The Greyhounds scored nine-straight goals in the fourth quarter to take a 13-12 lead on a Tyler Albrecht goal with 17.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
Virginia won the ensuing faceoff, and Ryan Tucker converted on a 10-plus yard shot that officials ruled crossed the goal line with one-tenth of a second remaining, forcing overtime.
Virginia then earned the win on a James Pannell goal midway through the extra period.
Five Loyola players – Tyler Albrecht, Romar Dennis, Nikko Pontrello, Matt Sawyer and Brian Schultz – all scored two goals. Another five players – Pontrello, Sawyer, Schultz, Brian Sherlock and Justin Ward – had five goals.
Of the eight Loyola players (the aforementioned and Kyle Duffy) who scored goals in the game, six of them entered with four or fewer career goals.
Follow The Action
No livestream will be available of the game, but live stats will be available on LoyolaGreyhounds.com.
In The Polls
Loyola opened the 2014 season ranked 12th in the USILA Coaches Poll and 16th in the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse Media Rankings.
Penn State, which won its season opener against the University of Michigan, was slotted ninth in the coaches’ poll and seventh in the media version.
Loyola and Penn State will meet for the 51st time, but 2009, when the teams take the field Saturday. The Nittany Lions, who are third only to Towson (54) and Johns Hopkins (51) in games played against the Greyhounds, lead the series, 26-23-1. Loyola won the last four meetings when the teams were ECAC Lacrosse League foes.
New Year, New League
Loyola officially became a member of the 10-school Patriot League on July 1, 2013, less than a year after announcing it would join the conference in August 2012. The Greyhounds joined the League along with Boston University, increasing the full-time membership to 10.
The Greyhounds will compete in men’s lacrosse with Boston University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy. American University is also a full member of the League, but the school does not sponsor men’s lacrosse.
On The Tube
Loyola men’s lacrosse will make a minimum of four appearances on national television this year as part of the Patriot League’s agreement with CBS Sports Network.
The Greyhounds will host Duke University on Sunday, March 9, in a match-up of the last two NCAA Champions, and CBS will then feature the Greyhounds’ Thursday, April 17, game against Bucknell University, the top two teams in the Preseason Patriot League poll. The network will also feature two long-time rivals when Loyola hosts Johns Hopkins University, onSaturday, May 3.
Additionally, the Loyola-Georgetown game on Wednesday, March 19, in Washington, D.C., was added to the CBS Sports Network slate.
Both semifinal games in the Patriot League Championships will be broadcast on Friday, April 25, and the Patriot League Championship Game will also air live on Sunday, April 27.
As a first-year member of the Patriot League, Loyola was picked to win the conference title in a poll of the League’s coaches and sports information contacts. The Greyhounds drew 13 of the possible 16 first-place votes (schools are not allowed to vote for themselves) and edged Bucknell for first.
Loyola and Bucknell were followed (in order) by Lehigh, Army, Colgate, Navy, Holy Cross, Lafayette and Boston U.
Joe Fletcher was named the Preseason Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, and he earned a spot with teammate Justin Ward on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team.
Fletch, White And Blue
Senior defender Joe Fletcher was the long 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.
Fletcher trained with Team USA throughout the fall, playing in two training weekends, the Play For Parkinson’s event in October and the Champion Challenge last month. He was one of seven defenders to make the 30-man roster.
Dennis Grabs Patriot League Honor
Romar Dennis was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Monday after scoring a pair of goals in his first collegiate game at Virginia. Dennis tallied one in the first quarter and one in the fourth that tied the game at 12-12.
Three Loyola players scored their first collegiate goals in the first quarter of the Greyhounds’ game at Virginia. Brian Sherlock, Tyler Albrecht and Romar Dennis all tallied the first of their careers as Loyola worked to a 4-4 tie after 15 minutes.
Of the eight players who scored for Loyola, six of them entered the game with four or fewer career goals. Justin Ward and Nikko Pontrello were the only two with more than four.
In addition to Albrecht and Dennis, Jack Carrigan (defense), Ryan Fournier (rope unit) and Graham Savio (face-off) all made their Loyola and collegiate debuts.
Four players – Albrecht, David Manning (defense), Brian Schultz (attack) and Sherlock – all made their first career starts.
Three Garner Preseason All-America Nods
In addition to being the three Greyhounds selected by Major League Lacrosse teams in the Collegiate Entry Draft, senior co-captains Joe Fletcher, Pat Laconi and Justin Ward were named Preseason All-Americans by Face-Off Yearbook, an Inside Lacrosse publication.
Fletcher was picked to repeat as a First Team All-American, while Ward drew a Second Team nod and Laconi was tabbed as an Honorable Mention All-American.
Quarterbacking The Offense
Justin Ward returns for his third year as a starter on attack for the Greyhounds and will once again serve as Loyola’s quarterback from ‘X’.
Last season, Ward earned USILA All-America Honorable Mention 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.
Ward is 22nd in school Division I history with 109 career points, two shy of tying Gavin Prout for 21st. He is seventh in career assists with 69, one away from creating a three-way tie for sixth with Kevin Beach and Tim O’Shea.
Running The Rope Unit
Senior short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Laconi is back for his fourth year as a “starter” on the Greyhounds rope unit. Laconi has been one of the Greyhounds’ top two defensive midfielders since his freshman year between the lines.
Laconi has been lauded by Loyola and opposing coaches as one of the best one-on-one short-stick in the nation, finished last year second on the Greyhounds in caused turnovers with 20. He also picked up 24 ground balls and showed his offensive ability in transition, logging 10 points on four goals and six assists. Over his four years as a Greyhound, Laconi has caused 42 turnovers and picked up 59 ground balls.
Senior defender Joe Fletcher has been one of the top close defenders in the game since his first year as a starter in 2012, his sophomore year. That year, he earned All-Tournament honors after Loyola won the NCAA Championship, and he continued his outstanding play as a junior.
Last year, Fletcher caused 17 turnovers and picked up 64 ground balls for the Greyhounds, a season after finishing with 26 and 41.
Against Virginia, Fletcher had the first slashing penalty of his collegiate career, a span of 49 games and 37 starts. It was just the fourth penalty of his All-American career. (Thanks @D1scourse for the research)
Fletcher was the third overall selection of the 2014 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Entry Draft by the New York Lizards, and he was one of 52 players competing with the United States Men’s Lacrosse National Team for a spot on this summer’s World Cup roster.
In addition to his exploits on the field, Fletcher was an ECAC All-Academic Team honoree, and he was picked as one of 14 students campus-wide to be named to the school’s Green & Grey Society, a group of student leaders that serve as liaisons to Loyola’s president, board of trustees and administration.
Loyola will open its home schedule on Wednesday, February 19, when it hosts Towson University at 3 p.m. The game will air live on the Patriot League Network.