Loyola University Maryland opens the home portion of its 2013 men’s lacrosse schedule on Saturday, February 23, when it hosts the University of Maryland at Ridley Athletic Complex in a rematch of the 2012 NCAA Championship Game.
The Greyhounds and Terrapins will faceoff at 1:30 p.m. in a game that follows the Loyola-Penn State University women’s lacrosse game that starts at 11 a.m.
On The Tube
The game will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network in the channel’s first live college lacrosse game that was not part of a multi-team event. Mike Corey will call the play-by-play, while Mark Dixon will provide the analysis in the booth. Evan Washburn will be on the sidelines for additional commentary.
Loyola and Maryland will be meeting for the 22nd time in series history on Saturday with the Terrapins holding a 19-2 advantage in the previous 21 games.
Prior to last year’s NCAA Championship Game, the teams had not faced each other since Maryland won a 19-8 decision on May 23, 1998, in the NCAA Semifinals at Rutgers University.
The 2013 contest will be the first time the teams have met in the regular season since Loyola scored its first victory in the series, 10-8, on March 19, 1989, in the title game of the Loyola/George Transfer Invitational. Prior to that game, Maryland had won the first 18 meetings.
Title Game Look Back
Loyola and Maryland met at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on May 28, 2012, with the NCAA Championship on the line.
The Greyhounds jumped out to a 2-1 lead with 1:55 to go in the first quarter on an Eric Lusby goal, but the Terrapins rallied to score the next two, going up 3-2 on Kevin Cooper’s tally off a Joe Cummings assist with 10:40 remaining in the first half.
Pat Byrnes tied the score 1:18 later, and Mike Sawyer gave the Greyhounds the lead for good with a low-to-low shot at 5:57, as Maryland would not score again the rest of the game.
Loyola’s defense held Maryland scoreless for the final 40-minutes, 40-seconds of regulation despite facing 19 shots in the second half and 20 total during that span.
Eric Lusby was named the NCAA Championships’ Most Outstanding Player after scoring four goals in the Championship game and a tournament record 17 in four games. Chris Layne led Loyola with three assists in the game, Davis Butts and Sawyer both had multi-point games for the Greyhounds with a goal and an assist apiece.
Jack Runkel made six saves in goal for the Greyhounds.
In The Polls
Loyola opened the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in both the USILA Coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media polls, but after last weekend’s narrow victory at Delaware, the Greyhounds fell to No. 2 in the coaches’ version. They remain in the top spot in the media poll.
It was the first time in the polls’ existences that the Greyhounds have been ranked No. 1 in the preseason.
Maryland entered the season ranked second in both polls, and the Terrapins took over the top slot in the coaches’ poll this week.
Last Time Out
Mike Sawyer scored four goals to lead seven Loyola players who had at least two points in a 14-9 mid-week victory at Towson on Wednesday night.
Sawyer tallied the first goal of the game as four different Greyhounds scored in the first quarter while Loyola built a 6-1 advantage with 9:39 to play in the first half.
Kevin Ryan scored two of the Greyhounds’ first six goals, both on extra-man opportunities, and Sawyer added his second of the game early in the second period. Towson, however, scored three unanswered to pull within two, 6-4, with 6:41 on the first-half clock, but Sawyer and Sean O’Sullivan answered for the Greyhounds to give them an 8-4 halftime cushion.
Patrick Fanshaw and Sawyer tallied goals in the second half’s first seven minutes, and Loyola was up six, but the Tigers made it a three-goal game on two occasions in the fourth quarter.
Sawyer’s Hat Trick
With more than five minutes remaining in the first half, Mike Sawyer had recorded his first hat trick of the 2013 season and 18th of his career. He is now third among active players with career hat tricks, trailing only Colgate’s Peter Baum (28) and Army’s Garrett Thul (25).
Sawyer had not scored more than one goal in a game during Loyola’s last four outings, including the NCAA Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Championship Game, as well as Loyola’s season-opener at Delaware. His last hat trick came on May 12, 2012, in the NCAA First Round when he scored four in the second half for a total of five against Canisius.
Last season, he recorded 11 hat tricks, including a stretch of five in a row from March 7-24.
Ward Remains High Point Scorer
Justin Ward matched Mike Sawyer’s four points against Towson and remains the Greyhounds’ 2013 point leader with 10. The junior attackman had a goal and three assists against the Tigers after opening with three goals and two assists to tie his career-high with five points at Delaware.
Ward finished third on the team last season in points (43) while leading the Greyhounds with 31 assists, the fourth-most in Loyola’s single-season Division I history.
With his three assists at Towson, he moved into a tie for 22nd in school Division I assist history with 37. He has matched the output of Buzz Miller (1982-83) and Chris Basler (2007-11).
Spreading The Scoring
Nine Loyola players scored goals on Wednesday night at Towson with seven recording two or more points.
Mike Sawyer and Justin Ward led the way with four points, Chris Layne and Kevin Ryan tallied three, while Nikko Pontrello, Sean O’Sullivan and Brian Schultz each recorded two.
The seven multi-point scorers were a step-up from the four (Layne, Sawyer, Ward and Davis Butts) who had two or more at Delaware.
Last season, Loyola had just two games with seven players scoring two or more points (Michigan, Air Force).
Burkhart Breaks In
Blake Burkhart made his Loyola debut at the faceoff X, taking all 28 restarts and winning a career-high 17-of-28 (60.7-perecnt).
He also had a game-high eight ground balls while winning the first four of the game, 6-of-8 during the second quarter and 5-of-8 during the fourth.
Burkhart played his freshman season at Rutgers University where he was 54-of-100 at the ‘X’ in 2012 before transferring to Loyola.
Better Off The Ground
Winning the ground ball battle was a point of emphasis for Loyola entering the Towson game, and the Greyhounds were successful. They picked up 40 to the Tigers’ 30, thanks in large part to a 17-11 advantage in faceoffs.
In the season-opener against Delaware, the Blue Hens grabbed 36, and Loyola had 34.
Loyola was 10th in the NCAA last season with an average of 32.79 per game. The Greyhounds were 13-0 last year when picking up more than their opponents.
Loyola converted on 4-of-5 extra-man opportunities against Towson after going 0-of-2 against Delaware.
Kevin Ryan scored twice on man-up opportunities, recording the first multi-goal or point game of his career. He later added an assist on a Mike Sawyer goal in an even situation.
Another EMO attackman Brian Schultz had a goal and an assist in man-up situations, and Justin Ward scored one late.
Chris Layne was one of two players to score more than one goal on Saturday against Delaware, and he was one of four Greyhounds to score two or more points.
Layne tallied the first and last goals of the game for the Greyhounds, the initial coming at 12:17 in the first quarter, and the second with 4.4 seconds left in the fourth. He also assisted on a Scott Ratliff transition goal just over five minutes into the third quarter.
It was his fourth career multi-goal game as a collegian with two coming last year (against Air Force and versus Fairfield in the ECAC Championship Game). He also had a two-goal outing as a sophomore in 2010 at North Carolina against Delaware.
Acton Active On Defense
Reid Acton tied his career-high on Saturday with five caused turnovers to lead all players. He also picked up five ground balls, one shy of Scott Ratliff’s team-best six. He was part of a unit that held Delaware’s starting attack to just three goals in the game. Acton also caused five turnovers last season against Ohio State.
Between The Pipes
Loyola goalkeeper Jack Runkel made 10 of his 11 saves during the second half against Delaware, marking the eight time in his career that he has posted 10 or more saves in goal. The last time came when Runkel set a career-high in the NCAA Semifinals with 15 saves against Notre Dame, setting a career-high. He narrowly eclipsed his previous best of 14 set on April 28 against Johns Hopkins. Runkel followed his performance in the Semifinal with a six-save, three-goals allowed performance in the title game against Maryland. He was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team for his efforts.
Runkel played to a 5.22 goals against average and .700 saves percentage in four NCAA Tournament games.
A Lot Of Everything
The adage that a player does a little bit of everything does not necessarily apply to long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff. The Loyola senior does a lot, as he led the team last year in ground balls (88) and caused turnovers (37), was fifth in goals (12) and seventh in assists (7). His 37 caused turnovers were second-most in Loyola history – behind P.T. Ricci’s 51 in 2009 – since the stats became official that year.
A Tewaaraton Award semifinalist, Ratliff was named the Most Outstanding Player of the ECAC Championships after scoring three goals, one a game-winner, and recording two assists and 16 ground balls.
He had two goals, including the winner just eight seconds into overtime, and an assist versus Denver while picking up a career-high nine ground balls.
Ratliff, who was also an USILA All-America Third Team member, an All-ECAC First Team honoree and ECAC Defensive Player of the Year.
He tallied a goal and six ground balls in the 2013 season-opener against Delaware, bringing his career scoring totals to 17 goals and 10 assists. He is currently second among active long-poles in scoring behind Bryant’s Mason Poli who has 32 goals and 10 assists.
With his game-opening goal against Canisius in the NCAA First Round, he set the Loyola single-season record for long-pole scoring, surpassing the record of 16 points set by current assistant coach Matt Dwan his senior season in 1995 when he tallied 11 goals and five assists and earned All-America honors.
Loyola players are wearing three stickers on their helmets this season to remember those who have passed away. The stickers are in memory of Adam Pomper, a member of the 2012 team who passed away on June 12, 2012, Mandy O’Sullivan, mother of current players Sean and Ryan O’Sullivan who died in March 2012 from pancreatic cancer, and the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting in December 2012 where Loyola put on a youth lacrosse clinic in January.
Welcome To The Staff
Two new faces join Head Coach Charley Toomey and Assistant Coaches Matt Dwan and Steve Vaikness on the Greyhounds’ coaching staff for 2013. David Metzbower, a 1986 Delaware graduate and former Blue Hens assistant coach, came on board in November as the Greyhounds’ offensive coordinator, replacing Dan Chemotti who left to become the head coach at the University of Richmond. Loyola alum Steve Layne ’10 was brought on in September as the program’s Director of Lacrosse Operations.
Well-Represented In MLL Draft
Five members of the Loyola men’s lacrosse team were selected in the top 26 of the January 11 Major League Lacrosse draft. The Greyhounds tied Virginia for the most draft picks in the selection process.
Josh Hawkins and Mike Sawyer were both taken in the first round, going fifth and eighth overall to the Hamilton Nationals and Charlotte Hounds, respectively.
Scott Ratliff was the first pick of the second round, going ninth to the Boston Cannons, and Davis Butts was taken early in the third round, 19th overall to the Denver Outlaws.
Joining Hawkins in Hamilton will be Reid Acton, the team’s fourth round pick, 26th overall.
Sawyer will be joined in Charlotte by former teammate Eric Lusby who was the top waiver pick after the NCAA season ended in early June. After missing the majority of the MLL season with an injury, the NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Player made his MLL debut on July 28 at Long Island and scored a goal. He then tallied three goals in an August 11 win over Rochester.
Newtown Youth Clinic
Fourteen members of the Loyola men’s lacrosse team took time from their holiday vacation to travel to Newtown, Conn., for a clinic with the Newtown Lacrosse Association.
Led by freshman Jason Crane, the Greyhounds worked with more than 100 elementary and junior-high school-age players, many of whom attended Sandy Hook Elementary School where the shooting that killed 26 took place in December.
Returning From 2012
Head Coach Charley Toomey returns eight starters and 34 letterwinners from the 2012 Loyola team that won the NCAA Championship.
Back among the starters are attackmen Mike Sawyer and Justin Ward, first-line midfielders Davis Butts, Chris Layne and Sean O’Sullivan, defenders Reid Acton and Joe Fletcher and goalkeeper Jack Runkel.
The Greyhounds also return their top long-stick midfielder, Scott Ratliff, and their top three short-stick midfielders, Kyle Duffy, Josh Hawkins and Pat Laconi. A pair of second-line midfielders, Phil Dobson and Nikko Pontrello, also return.
Six Loyola players were named to the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook Preseason All-America teams: defender Joe Fletcher and short-stick midfielder Josh Hawkins (first team); attackman Mike Sawyer and long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff (second); midfielder Davis Butts (third); and, defender Reid Acton (honorable mention).
All six earned All-America honors last season with Sawyer earned Second Team honors and Ratliff was named to the Third Team. Acton, Butts, Fletcher and Acton earned Honorable Mention along with graduate student Eric Lusby.
In his first year as a starter, Fletcher was named to the NCAA and ECAC Championships All-Tournament Teams and earned a reputation as one of the top defenders in the nation. In 19 games as a sophomore, Fletcher caused 26 turnovers, second most on the team, and had 41 ground balls.
Hawkins has continued to be one of the top defensive midfielders in the nation and garnered considerable respect nationally for his play during the NCAA Championships. He earned NCAA All-Tournament honors and helped the Greyhounds limit Notre Dame and Maryland to a combined eight goals on Championships weekend. In addition to his six goals and two assists in 15 games last year, Hawkins was second on the team with 63 ground balls.
Sawyer was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s top player last season when he scored 52 goals and assisted on 10 more and was named the team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player. During the regular-season, he led the ECAC in goals and goals per game while earning All-ECAC First Team honors. He became the second player to score 50 or more goals in a season and was joined by a third on last year’s team.
Ratliff continued to be one of the top long-stick midfielders in the nation and set a Loyola scoring record for the position last year. He finished with 12 goals and seven assists, exceeding current Loyola Assistant Coach Matt Dwan’s previous record for a long-stick midfielder set in 1995. In addition to his scoring, he tallied 88 ground balls and 37 caused turnovers while earning ECAC Defensive Player of the Year, ECAC Championships Most Valuable Player, NCAA All-Tournament Team and team co-defenisve player of the year honors.
Butts was a first-line midfielder for the Greyhounds for the second year in a row. He excelled as a dodger and finisher and ranked fourth on the team in points (35) and third in goals scored (21). A versatile player, Butts also saw plenty of action on the wings of faceoffs and in the defensive midfield where he picked up 40 ground balls.
Acton will enter 2013 having started on the Greyhounds’ defense each of the last three years. He finished the 2012 season with 44 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers, while helping Loyola record a 7.21 goals allowed per game average, the fifth-best mark in Division I. The Greyhounds set a pair of defensive records during Championship Weekend, holding Notre Dame and Maryland to a combined eight goals in the two games and allowing the Terrapins just three in the title match.
Toomey Receives Morris Touchstone Award
Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey was named the ECAC Coach of the Year for the third time in his seven-year career, and in December, he received the coaches association’s Morris Touchstone Award as the national coach of the year.
The Greyhounds became the second team in USILA Coaches Poll history to start a season unranked and ascend to the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The only other team was Duke in 2007 – a year after the Blue Devils had their season suspended in March – which accomplished the feat after being unranked in the first poll, moving to second in the next version and first in the third. Duke was knocked from its perch as No. 1 that season when it lost to the Greyhounds at the First Four in San Diego.
The win over Canisius in the First Round was the 60th victory of his coaching career, becoming the fourth coach in Loyola history to win 60 or more – Dave Cottle (181-70, 1983-2001), Charles Wenzel (62-104, 1954-1970), Jay Connor (61-46, 1975-1982). Toomey’s .626 winning percentage trails only Cottle’s .721 at Loyola.
Last season, runs of three-plus goals were critical in the Greyhounds success, as they had runs of 3-0 or better in all 19 games. In all, Loyola scored three or more in a row on 37 occasions last year.
The Greyhounds have opened the 2013 season in similar fashion as they scored three-straight in the second quarter to take a 4-2 lead against Delaware after trailing, 2-1. They then had two runs of 3-0 or better at Towson.
On The Flip Side
Conversely, the Greyhounds allowed a run of three or more goals just 12 times last year, with the last coming when Canisius scored three in the second quarter. Only Denver (seven in ECAC Semifinal), Johns Hopkins (five), Fairfield (five), Air Force (four) have scored more than three in a row this year.
In the 2013 season-opener, Delaware had one 3-0 run that the Blue Hens used to tie the game at 7-7 in the fourth quarter.
The Greyhounds outscored opponents 66-22 in the third quarters of games, and 123-63 overall in the second half (including overtime), last season.
The second-half scoring continues a trend from 2011 when Loyola outscored opponents, 69-52, after halftime (including two overtime goals), and 77-56.