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Paul Wexler on Oakland’s lack of talent

Posted on 17 September 2015 by WNST Staff

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Chances should be there for Ravens to throw downfield in Oakland

Posted on 17 September 2015 by Luke Jones

The failures of the Ravens’ passing game were a collaborative effort in Week 1, but the peripheral numbers will still make you shudder as the attention has shifted toward Sunday’s meeting with the Oakland Raiders.

In the first half in Denver, Joe Flacco threw exactly one pass more than eight yards beyond the line of scrimmage through the air. It came on a pass he threw away on the final play of the second quarter.

The eighth-year quarterback had just two throws of that variety through the first three quarters. Of Flacco’s 32 pass attempts in the 19-13 loss to the Broncos, just eight traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage through the air. Seven other passes were either at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Even with lousy pass protection and receivers lacking speed, the Ravens needed to pose some semblance of a threat to throw the ball down the field to keep the opposition honest. And that responsibility largely falls on the shoulders of new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, a sentiment that Flacco gently alluded to when addressing reporters in California on Wednesday.

“We didn’t ever really attempt to do it and we’ve talked about that. We need to take our shots,” Flacco said. “If nothing else, at least let teams know that we’re going to do that and have the confidence in ourselves in doing that. As far as confidence goes, I think that also translates to us. If we’re going to call those things and get them going, I think it’ll give us the confidence to go out there and execute plays and have some explosiveness to us.

“It’s tough to maintain 15-play drives consistently and score points, so we’re going to have to have that as part of our game. To start off, I would say that and then we just have to make sure that we protect and I find the soft zone in the pocket and put the ball where it needs to be.”

In fairness, Trestman lacks the luxury of having ex-Raven Torrey Smith or even speedy rookie Breshad Perriman on the outside, but the Ravens must find a way to push the ball downfield in Week 2. It will begin with improved pass protection against an Oakland front seven that isn’t as imposing as Denver’s, but the Raiders’ pash-rushing trio of Justin Tuck, Khalil Mack, and Aldon Smith will try to tee off on Flacco in a similar fashion.

If the offensive line can bounce back in Week 2, opportunities should be there to take a few shots against an Oakland secondary that is likely to be without either of its starting safeties from Week 1. Nate Allen suffered a season-ending knee injury and Charles Woodson suffered a shoulder injury in the lost to Cincinnati.

Larry Asante and Taylor Mays could be their respective replacements with the latter having just been re-signed this week. They would join starting cornerbacks T.J. Carrie — a 2014 seventh-round pick — and 2013 first-round selection D.J. Hayden, who hasn’t shown much at the NFL level.

Those realities should spell trouble for a pass defense that finished 16th in the NFL a year ago and allowed Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton to throw for 269 yards last week.

Of course, speed will remain a weakness for the Ravens as Perriman isn’t expected to play in Week 2, but Flacco said that’s no excuse for a passing game that produced fewer yards than any in the league last week. Trestman must incorporate his young tight ends against suspect safeties while seizing a few opportunities to test them deep, even if it only leads to more breathing room underneath.

“It’s about exploiting weaknesses in defenses and just a combination of things and hitting them at the right time,” Flacco said. “It’s not about coming over there and running a 4.2 [40-yard dash] running by guys; you seldom see that. I don’t think we’re going to have that guy right now that’s going to run by guys five times a game, but we definitely have guys that can run crossing routes and be hit 30 yards downfield and can run double moves downfield — things like that.

“That’s what we’re going to have to do.”

If the Ravens offense is unable to do those things against a banged-up Oakland secondary, it could be time to panic.

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Guy Haberman weighs in on a disappointing start to the Raiders season

Posted on 16 September 2015 by WNST Staff

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Mike Wagaman previews the Ravens-Raiders Week 2 matchup

Posted on 16 September 2015 by WNST Staff

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Coley Harvey analyzes Bengals dominating victory over Oakland

Posted on 16 September 2015 by WNST Staff

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JT The Brick recaps the Raiders embarrassing Week 1 effort vs. the Bengals

Posted on 16 September 2015 by WNST Staff

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Ravens next game up – focus on the Raiders

Posted on 15 September 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos

While hunkering down in San Jose, the Baltimore Ravens are preparing for the Oakland Raiders.  Both teams are coming off of losses, the Ravens in a close one to the Broncos, while the Raiders got blown out by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Ravens suffered a devastating loss on the defensive side of the ball, losing OLB Terrell Suggs for the year and LT Eugene Monroe for the game. The Raiders had some significant losses as well.  Starting QB Derek Carr sustained a severe bruise to his throwing hand, while trying to stiff arm Bengals DB Adam Jones on a run near the sideline. His availability is up in the air at this time, as his backup Matt McGloin finished the game for him.  The Bengals have talked to Christian Ponder this week, but have not signed him.

In other Oakland injury news, the Raiders fear safety Nate Allen has torn his ACL, and he will undergo more testing this week. The Raiders’ other starting safety – Charles Woodson – is scheduled for an MRI after injuring his shoulder in Sunday’s game as well. The Raiders have signed much traveled veteran safety Taylor Mays, who has bounced around the league and has never lived up to his draft position and college hype. The backup safeties are Larry Asante and rookie Keenan Lambert – not exactly household names.  The Bengals had great success attacking the Raiders’ safeties with their TEs, particularly Tyler Eifert who had 10 receptions for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns.

That’s a matchup the Ravens should be able to exploit with their 3 young TEs, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.  Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman needs to focus and build his game plan around attacking the Raiders’ safeties. Joe Flacco needs to be more careful with the ball, and make sure that his receivers have some separation before airing it out.

The Raiders defensive line is stout, and Ravens RT Rick Wagner is going to have his hands full with former NY Giant Justin Tuck lined up across from him.  Tuck played at a very high level in the opener, and gave Bengals’ RT Andre Smith more than he could handle.  NT Dan Williams also graded out very high last week, and could give Ravens C Jeremy Zuttah problems up the middle.  Rush end/OLB Khalil Mack finished his rookie campaign in a strong fashion, and has picked up right where he left from.  If Eugene Monroe does not pass the NFL’s concussion protocol, the Ravens should consider moving LG Kelechi Osemele to RT, and inserting second year pro John Urschel in the LG spot.

I think a line – from left to right – of Osemele, Urschel, Zuttah, Yanda and Wagner would be superior to Hurst, Osemele, Zuttah, Yanda and Wagner. I don’t think the drop off is as severe from Osemele to Urschel, in contrast from Monroe to Hurst.  Urschel can get help from Zuttah if need be, while your left tackle most of the time is on an island.

The Raiders defensive backs are Travis Carrie and DJ Hayden.  They are not that good and if Flacco gets time, he should be able to complete some passes on them downfield. They also lack quality depth at the position. Raiders special teams are in good shape with Sebastian Janikowski handling the kicking duties, and the dangerous Taiwan Jones in the return game. Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg needs to game plan to contain Jones.

On the offensive side of the ball, LT Donald Penn is a journeyman who started for Tampa Bay last year.  It’s too bad for the Ravens that Suggs is out for the year, as Penn is not that good and would have been an easy matchup.  Courtney Upshaw and Za’Darius Smith should be able to get their hands on the Raiders’ QB.  RT Austin Howard isn’t much better, and Elvis Dumervil should have a field day. RG J’Marcus Webb is equally unimpressive, where the tandem of Brandon Williams and Carl Davis can do some damage. The Raiders’ strength along their o-line is in their LG and C, where Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson man those positions.

Latavius Murray starts at RB for the Raiders, and he is a big downhill tackle to tackle type of a back, that they will try to run behind Jackson and Hudson.  Marcel Reece starts at fullback, where he’s been an average blocker throughout his career, and not much of a threat when carrying the ball. The primary receivers are former 49er Michael Crabtree and mercurial rookie Amari Cooper. Cooper has been game ready since he was drafted out of the University of Alabama, and Ravens DB Jimmy Smith needs to lock up on him from the opening whistle.

This is a must win game for the Ravens, as teams that start their season 0-2 rarely make it into the playoffs.  Although they’re on the road for the second consecutive week, there is no  better opponent, no better opportunity to get a road victory against than these Raiders.  Although they have a few pieces to build around, these are still the “same old Raiders” that we’ve been seeing for the better part of the last decade.  Once you get past their defensive line and Khalil Mack there’s not much there, so the Ravens offense should be able to move the ball a lot better against them than they did against the Broncos.  On the flip side of the ball, if the Ravens defense repeats their performance from a week ago, they will shut down the Raiders’ offense, particularly if Carr can’t go and McGloin is the QB.

 

 

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 3): How close did Angelos come to owning Baltimore’s NFL team?

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 3 of future book “The Peter Principles” that I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia. I have released the first three chapters of the book, which chronicles the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. I think you’ll find much of this already-reported information to be illuminating.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

 

3. Giving Peter The Ball & Scabs

 

“I think they are concerned about litigation, but they feel as we do, that no one wants to litigate but one has to sometimes and the chances for success are excellent. I’m confident that Baltimore is the best applicant for an NFL franchise both from a financial and a fan standpoint.”

– Peter Angelos, May 18, 1994 to The Sun regarding Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke blocking his rights to buying an NFL franchise

 

 

TO UNDERSTAND BALTIMORE’S INNATE YEARNING for a National Football League team is to understand what the Baltimore Ravens have meant to the town, its sports psyche and the league since returning in 1996. After winning Super Bowls in 2001 and 2013, it’s very hard to fathom that time and space between March 28, 1984 and Nov. 6, 1995 ­– when the town that participated in what became known as The Greatest Game Ever Played in 1958, the place that the Colts of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, Raymond Berry and Jim Parker roamed on 33rd Street in what was affectionately known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum – was without the NFL.

The Orioles were the toast of Baltimore for sure in the early 1990s but there was always something missing in the Charm City when there weren’t NFL games on those 12 seasons of Sundays in the fall. After a decade of high-speed pursuits by the state of Maryland, Mayor of Baltimore and then Governor William Donald Schaefer, the Maryland Stadium Authority and several bidders in 1993, the city was repeatedly turned down in the expansion process. By the time Angelos had purchased the Orioles, the NFL had found itself in a precarious situation with Baltimore sitting empty and several suitors working every angle possible to steal an existing team and essentially steal another city’s team the way the Colts were stolen off in the middle of the night in 1984 by owner Robert Irsay. And Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke had tried every possible way to keep Baltimore from ever having a team again and once attempted to get a stadium built in Laurel to ensure it. Schaefer blocked Cooke and then rallied support for civic monies to be held to fund a Baltimore football stadium at Camden Yards if the NFL granted the city a franchise.

Despite all of the efforts of Schaefer and his steward Herb Belgrad, it didn’t work. In early 1995, the city of Baltimore was considered to be further away than ever in a search for a return to the NFL now that a pair of expansion teams had gone to Jacksonville and Charlotte and it was clear St. Louis was in the final stages of swiping the Rams from Los Angeles.

It was a dirty business, this franchise ownership, league gamesmanship, civic hostage taking of teams and the politics of modern sports. But Baltimore and Maryland were a unique player in the revolving door of NFL cities vying for the theft of teams from other markets where old stadia were failing to lure more revenue or ownerships were dissatisfied and looking for a bigger, better deal – led of course by Irsay’s decision to leave the land of pleasant living a decade earlier and the machinations of Al Davis in California with the Raiders.

Because of what the Orioles meant to the area and the success of the downtown revitalization spurred by the facility, Baltimore, Maryland had real money in the state coffers to fund a new stadium in the parking lot adjacent to the baseball stadium at Camden Yards. The area had always been earmarked as the site of a potential NFL team but the only problem was finding one of the existing 30 teams to find the deal too $weet to pass up. There was a lot of money to be made on an NFL franchise in Baltimore and the thought was that with many municipalities hard-lining NFL owners on the stadium issue on behalf of local taxpayers, it was only a matter of time before someone moved a team to the former home of the Colts. The insiders knew just how much money and how rich the Baltimore deal was for an owner who wanted to flee but the media and local fans were very skeptical after a decade of operating in the fog of having lost the Colts.

Once again, Angelos went into his office in Baltimore and tried to don the cape as a civic hero, flying in to save the day and bring the NFL back to his hometown.

But there were several other suitors pushing to be the winner in this grab for a football team in 1994.

Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass left Angelos’ partnership before it ever really began in September 1993 – he never invested in the team after being the original local person who was interested in the club when Eli Jacobs put it up for sale. At the time he said it was in an effort to pursue an NFL team that he hoped to call the Bombers, paying homage to the World War II planes that were built in Eastern Baltimore County at Martin Marietta.

Malcolm Glazer and his sons Bryan and Joel had been one of the three failed efforts by Baltimore to win the 1993 NFL expansion process. Now, they had set their sights on buying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their home state of Florida, where they lived in Palm Beach.

Baltimore beer distributors Bob Footlick and Bob Pinkner had also partnered with Robert Schulman in an effort to pursue an NFL team.

And, of course, with his August 1993 victory in the New York auction house and his leading man status as the owner of the Orioles, Angelos was funded and motivated to join Miami’s Wayne Huizenga as the second man to own an NFL and MLB franchise simultaneously. There had previously been language to disallow such a local

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Loyola rolls past Colgate, advances to Patriot League title game

Posted on 25 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Runs Push MLAX Past Colgate Into Patriot League Title Game

BALTIMORE – Loyola University Maryland used a pair of 3-0 runs, wrapped around a 4-0 stretch, to defeat Colgate University, 12-6, in the Patriot League Semifinals at Ridley Athletic Complex on Friday night. The top-ranked and seeded Greyhounds will play the winner of the U.S. Military Academy and Lehigh University in the title game on Sunday, April 27, at 1 p.m.

Loyola (13-1 overall) scored three-straight in the first quarter, four in a row during the second and three consecutive during the fourth. Colgate (9-6) scored back-to-back goals just once int eh game, late in the third quarter to pull within three.

Ryan Walsh scored one of his team-high three goals with 1:03 left in the third, and Cameron ripped a 12-yard shot from the top off a Kevin Adams assist from behind with less than three seconds left, cutting the Greyhounds’ advantage to 7-4.

Loyola, however, scored two goals 14 seconds apart less than two minutes into the fourth quarter to stretch out its lead.

Justin Ward dodged from goal-line extended on the right side of the crease, got topside and took an overhand shot that found the net for his second goal of the day at 13:31. He finished with five points on two goals and a team-high three assists.

The Raiders came up with the ensuing faceoff, but Ryan Fournier stripped Alex Kinnealey of the ball, and Brian Sherlock picked it up off the ground. Sherlock fed Fournier at the top of the box, and the long-stick midfielder scored on a low shot 14 seconds after Ward’s tally to put Loyola up 9-4.

Brian Schultz extended the Greyhounds’ advantage to six with a man-up goal off Jeff Chase’s assist at 11:59, and Loyola lead six.

Matt Clarkson momentarily brought the Raiders back within five, making a long split-dodge run to the top of the box for a goal at 7:43, but Loyola got the next possession, and after a timeout, Colgate set up a ride with goalkeeper Brandon Burke out of the cage.

Schultz fed Sherlock in front for a goal at 6:40, and Loyola scored its 12th of the night at 4:57 when Pontrello assisted on Kevin Ryan’s second.

Walsh put Colgate on the board 2:48 in, scoring with the 30-second timer on, but Ward responded with Loyola’s first 58 ticks of the clock after Walsh’s.

Ryan then took a Ward pass, shot-faked and scored at 4:23, and Chase added one off Ward’s second assist at 2:41, pushing Loyola in front, 3-1. Williams got free on the left side, though, and Colgate was within one heading into the second quarter after his goal at 1:31.

In the second quarter’s first 30 seconds, Joe Fletcher caused a turnover, and Brian Schultz backed off his man to open space and score his first of the game. Pontrello then picked up a ground ball backing up a wide Loyola shot, and he backed down his man to score with 4:21 left in the second, making it 5-2 Greyhounds.

Schultz added his second of the game at 3:06, also an unassisted tally, and the teams went into the locker room at halftime with the Greyhounds in front, 6-2.

After a lightning delay of 38 minutes less than five minutes into the second half, Schultz logged his third on an extra-man opportunity, taking a cross-crease pass from Ward to make the Greyhounds’ advantage five, 7-2, with 5:22 left before Colgate would score twice to tighten the game, 7-4.

Schultz’s four goals give him 10 in the Greyhounds’ last two games and 31 this season. Entering the season, he had scored three goals in his first three seasons.

Fletcher also tied his career-high with five caused turnovers, and he picked up five ground balls.

Ward’s three assists pushed his second total to 45, extending his school Division I single-season record and moving him into a three-way tie for second in Patriot League single-season history.

After the game, Fletcher, Pontrello and Ward were all named Tewaaraton Award nominees. They are three of 28 semifinalists for the award. Loyola joins Duke University as the only schools nationally with three nominees.

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Loyola battles Colgate in Patriot League semis Friday

Posted on 24 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Loyola Greyhounds vs. Colgate Raiders

Friday, April 25, 2014  |  4:30 p.m.

Baltimore, Md. | Ridley Athletic Complex | CBS Sports Network


Quick Hits About The ’Hounds

Loyola University Maryland will host the Patriot League Championships at Ridley Athletic Complex, beginning with the semifinals on Friday, April 25.

The top-seeded Greyhounds will play fourth-seeded Colgate University in the first semifinal at 4:30 p.m. The game will be followed by a semifinal between the U.S. Military Academy, the No. 2 seed and No. 3 Lehigh University at 7:30 p.m.

Colgate beat No. 5 seed Bucknell University, 10-9, in double-overtime on Tuesday, and Lehigh topped the No. 6 seed U.S. Naval Academy, 10-6.

Semifinal winners will meet in the title game at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 27.

Loyola went 8-0 to win the Patriot League Regular-Season title.

Joe Fletcher leads all close defenders nationally in ground balls (61) and ground balls per game (4.69). In 13 games, the players Fletcher has been responsible for marking have scored 11 goals (several when Fletcher has been out of the game late in regulation).

Pat Laconi is tops among NCAA Division I non-pole players in caused turnovers (27) and caused turnovers per game (2.08).

 

Last Time Out

Brian Schultz scored a career-high six goals and matched his best with seven points last Thursday as the top-ranked Greyhounds defeated Bucknell University, 13-5.

Schultz logged his third career hat trick and an assist in the game’s first 25 minutes, and he added three more goals in the second half.

Nikko Pontrello added three goals and an assist, while Justin Ward scored once and assisted on three.

The teams played more than half of the first quarter without a goal, but Schultz took a Ward feed and scored at 7:27. Ryan Joseph responded with a goal fro the Bison, but Schultz fed Matt Sawyer for an in-close goal at 4:47, starting a 7-0 Loyola run.

The Greyhounds held Bucknell without a goal for 37 minutes, 17 seconds, taking an 8-1 lead into the fourth quarter.

Loyola out-groundballed the Bison, 39-31, with Joe Fletcher leading the way with seven. Graham Savio picked up five while winning 13-of-20 faceoffs, and Kyle Duffy had four.

Pat Laconi caused a career-high five turnovers, while Jason Crane and Schultz each caused two.

 

Turn On The Television

All three games in the Patriot League Championships will be broadcast live, nationally on CBS Sports Network. Dave Ryan will call the play-by-play, and Evan Washburn will handle the analysis of the action.

The game is one of at least five that will feature the Greyhounds on the network. The  entire Patriot League Championships, as well as game against Johns Hopkins University on May 3will be broadcast live. Loyola’s games versus Duke University, at Georgetown University and against Bucknell University were also on the network.

 

In The Polls

With last Thursday’s win against Bucknell, Loyola remained in the No. 1 spot of both the USILA coaches and Warrior/Inside Lacrosse media polls for the fifth week in a row.

The Greyhounds have been ranked No. 1 at some point in each of the last three seasons. This stretch is the longest Loyola has been ranked first since spending nine-straight at the top from March 15-May 10, 1999.

 

Series History

Loyola and Colgate met for the first time earlier this year in Hamilton, N.Y., a game that was a 10-8 decision in the Greyhounds’ favor. The Raiders led 5-4 with 12:14 left in the third quarter before Loyola went on a 4-0 run that gave them an 8-5 advantage after goals by Jeff Chase, Justin Ward (two) and Nikko Pontrello.

Colgate pulled back within one on a Matt Clarkson strike with 13:33 left, but Matt Sawyer used a Ward feed to score from 10 yards out with 4:05 for the final margin.

Ward had a game-high five points with two goals and three assists, while Pontrello chipped in three goals and an assist. Clarkson scored three goals for Colgate.

 

All-League Awards

Three Loyola players earned individual awards on Monday when the Patriot League honors were announced. Joe Fletcher was named Defensive Player of the Year, Jack Runkel Goalkeeper of the Year and Justin Ward Offensive Player of the Year.

The trio was also named to the All-Patriot League First Team along with teammates Pat Laconi, Nikko Pontrello and Brian Sherlock. Kevin Ryan was named to the Second Team. Loyola’s seven All-League players were the most by any team this season.

 

Get To Ten

Since Charley Toomey became head coach at Loyola in 2006, the Greyhounds have scored 10 or more goals on 66 occasions. After defeating Bucknell, 13-5, on Thursday, Loyola has won 81.8 percent of those games (54-12).

 

Since 2012

Loyola has the best winning percentage in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse since the start of the 2012 season. The Greyhounds are 41-7 during that stretch (18-1 in 2012, 11-5 in 2013 and 12-1 this season) for a .854 mark. Loyola’s winning percentage of .923 this season is the best nationally.

Only Duke has won more games (43) than Loyola during the run, but the Blue Devils are second to the Greyhounds in winning percentage by more than seven percent (43-12, .782).

 

Chart Toppers

A pair of Greyhounds attackers are near the top of two offensive categories through games of Monday, April 21, in both total goals and assists. Nikko Pontrello is second in Division I with 43 goals, while Justin Ward is second with 42 assists.

The duo is the No. 2 point-scoring tandem in the country with 107 combined points (Ward, 55; Pontrello, 52). Albany’s Lyle (80) and Miles (77) have a combined 157.

 

Tops Among Close Defenders

Joe Fletcher not only leads Loyola in ground balls, total (61) and per game (4.69), this season, but more impressive than that, he paces all close defenders nationally in the categories. Fletcher is 46th overall in ground balls per game, while the 45 players who are ahead of him are either face-off specialists or long-stick midfielders who play on the wings during restarts.

 

And Short-Sticks, Too

Meanwhile, Pat Laconi leads all non-pole defenders nationally in caused turnovers and caused turnovers per game. With a career-high five against Bucknell, he has caused 27 this season while averaging 2.08 per game. He is eighth in the nation, and the seven players ahead of him in the rankings are all long-stick midfielders or close defenders.

 

Record-Setting Quarterback

Justin Ward has continued to be the quarterback of the Greyhounds’ offense this year, passing out 43 assists in 13 games. With his third and final assist on April 12 against Boston University, Ward passed Sean Heffernan for first-place in school single-season history at the Division I level.

He is second in the nation in total assists (42), and he is also second in the country and tops in the Patriot League, with 3.23 assists per game this year. The 42 assists are tied for fourth in Patriot League history, six shy of matching Bucknell’s David Dickson’s record of 48 from a year ago.

With four assists against Duke on March 9, Ward set Loyola’s career Division I record (since 1982) in total assists, eclipsing the mark of 83 set from 1989-92 by Jim Blanding. His three at Colgate gave him 100 for his career, making him the second player in program history ever to reach the century mark.

Ward now has 109 career assists. Gary Hanley holds the all-time Loyola record with 160 assists. Ward is also sixth in school Division I history in total points with 161, 19 away from tying Gewas Schindler (1996-99) for fifth place.

Ward is in his third year as a starter on attack for the Greyhound after earning USILA All-America Honorable Mention last year 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.

 

Pontrello Putting Up Points

Nikko Pontrello was held without a goal for the first time this season on April 5 against Navy, snapping a streak of 10-straight games to start the season that Pontrello had two or more goals. He rebounded, however, with three goals and two assists versus Boston University and three goals and an assist versus Bucknell. Through games of Monday, April 21, Pontrello is third in the nation in total goals with 43.

He scored two in the season-opener at Virginia and then had three each against Penn State and Towson before scoring a career-high six goals at Holy Cross. He then tallied four at Lehigh, five against Duke, three at Georgetown, five versus Lafayette and three against Colgate, Boston University and Bucknell.

Two of his goals have been game-winners in one-goal contests. Pontrello scored 19 seconds into overtime to give Loyola a 12-11 win at Penn State, and he then tallied one with 51.4 seconds left in regulation to push the Greyhounds past Georgetown, 10-9.

He leads the Patriot League and is second nationally in goals per game (3.31), while he is third and 17th in points per game (4.00).

 

Stopping Shots

After opening the season with a .214 save percentage in the opener at Virginia, Jack Runkel has played to a .647 mark, saving 132 out of 204 shots on goal he’s faced. In a six-game stretch  against Towson, Holy Cross, Lehigh, Duke and Army, Runkel made 61 saves and allowed just 26 goals (.701).

The senior goalkeeper has earned a record five Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week honors this year and has a goals against average of 6.86 this season and a cumulative saves percentage of .619 through 13 games. He is second in the nation in saves percentage and third in goals against average.

In three years as a starter for the Greyhounds, Runkel has a 7.67 goals against average and .567 saves percentage. Runkel’s record between the pipes is 39-6. He is second in wins among active goalkeepers, trailing only Maryland’s Niko Amato who has 43 victories. Amato, however, is a four-year starter, while Runkel did not start until early in his sophomore season.

 

Fletch, White And Blue

Senior defender Joe Fletcher was the lone 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.

He later had seven ground balls and causing a turnover against Duke. He also was primarily responsible for holding the Blue Devils’ All-American attacker Jordan Wolf to one goal.

Versus Colgate, Fletcher was matched up against Ryan Walsh, and he held the Raiders’ leading scorer without a goal or assist for the first time in his career, a total of 42 prior games. He then marked Navy’s T.J. Hanzsche, holding him without a point for the first time in 15 games. He then snapped the 41-game point-scoring streak of Bucknell’s David Dickson on April 17, holding him without a shot.

In all, the players Fletcher has had primary marking responsibilities for have tallied 11 goals in 13 games this year (including three each by the University of Virginia’s Mark Cockerton and Penn State University’s Shane Sturgis in the season’s first two games). Four of those goals have come when Fletcher was already out of the game late in the fourth quarter.

Fletcher has been named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week five times this year, the most any player in conference history has earned the award. He leads the Greyhounds with 61 ground balls and caused turnovers (19). His 64 career caused turnovers are fourth all-time at Loyola behind the 90 of P.T. Ricci, 88 of Scott Ratliff and Pat Laconi’s 68.

 

Not Just Defensive Midfield

Pat Laconi has continued to show his versatility as one of the top short-stick defensive midfielders in the nation while being a player with offensive acumen. The Preseason All-American had a goal against Bucknell to bring his season total to eight goals and three assists and his career numbers to 13 and 12.

Laconi posted four ground balls, matching his career-high, and three caused turnovers at Colgate, the final of each coming with less than 25 seconds remaining to help seal the win. He caused another three turnovers a week later at Navy and then had a career-high five against Bucknell. His team-leading 27 caused turnovers are tops a this season have brought his career total to 68, third-most in school history.

 

Taking Care Of The Ball

Loyola continues to lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game, averaging 10.69 through 13 contests. The Greyhounds have committed 0.98 fewer turnovers per game than the second-place team in the nation, Princeton.

 

Near The Top At Both Sides

The Greyhounds is the only team to be in the top five of scoring offense and defense at the Division I level. Loyola’s goals per game (13.23) rank fifth, and its goals allowed (7.00) are third. As a result, Loyola leads the nation in scoring margin (+6.23).

 

Games Of Runs

Loyola has used significant runs in all 13 of its games this season, and it has had five stretches of seven or more unanswered goals. In all the Greyhounds have 22 runs of 3-0 or better. Here is a look at their four best scoring stretches:

Opponent Run Time Covered   Opponent Run Time Covered
at Holy Cross 14-0 38:58   Lafayette 12-0 26:53
Towson 10-0 16:38   at Virginia 9-0 14:18

 

 

Schultz Stepping Up

In his first year as a starter on attack for the Greyhounds, senior Brian Schultz has scored 27 goals, second-most on the team through 13 games. He had the game-winning goal 12 seconds into the second overtime at Navy and less than two weeks later posted a career-best six goals in a win over Bucknell.

Entering this season, Schultz had seen most of his playing time on extra-man opportunities for the Greyhounds, posting a combined three goals and five assists.

 

Tewaaraton Watch Trio, Senior CLASS Award Pair

Two of Loyola’s senior co-captains were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List when it was released in February. Joe Fletcher and Justin Ward were among the 50 players nationally to receive recognition in February. Additionally, junior attacker Nikko Pontrello was added to the Watch List on March 20.

 

Fletcher and Ward were also two of 20 players nationally to be named candidates for the Senior CLASS Award that seniors who have performed at a high level athletically and in the classroom and who have used their platforms as student-athletes to make positive impacts in the community. Earlier this month, they were selected as two of the award’s 10 finalists for this year.

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