BALTIMORE – Loyola University Maryland went on a 4-1 run in the fourth quarter to twice tie the game, but No. 14 University of Virginia held off the sixth-ranked Greyhounds for a 16-15 non-conference victory in front of 4,618 fans at Ridley Athletic Complex.
A behind-the-back goal on the doorstep by Zack Sirico knotted the game at 14-14 with 5:01 left in regulation, but just under two minutes later, Ryan Lukacovic rolled the crease and scored from the left pipe for Virginia (1-0 overall) at 3:05.
Loyola (0-1) responded six seconds later as Graham Savio won the face-off to himself, scooped up the ground ball and raced into the box, scoring with a high sidearm shot to bring the Greyhounds even at 15-15. Savio scored a career-high two goals while going 19-of-35 at the ‘X’ with a career-high-tying 12 ground balls.
The tie was short-lived, however, as Ryan Conrad scored what would be the game-winner off a Zed Williams feed with 2:17 left on the clock.
Loyola came away with the ensuing faceoff, but a turnover gave the ball back to the Cavaliers when Scott Hooper picked up the ground ball. Lukacovic, however, turned it over on the Virginia offensive end, and the Greyhounds had possession with 90 seconds left.
Jay Drapeau came away with the ground ball and set a pass to Brian Sherlock for a clear, but his shot just inside the top of the box was saved by Virginia goalkeeper Will Railey, and the Cavaliers cleared the ball to their offensive end with under a minute to play.
Loyola was able to force a turnover on a ride, and Sirico caught a 60-yard pass from Ryan McNulty with seven seconds left. Sirico turned to feed a crashing Pat Spencer, but Tanner Scales deflected the pass, and Conrad came away with the ground ball as time expired.
The game was the third in four years between the teams that was decided by one goal. Loyola won last season’s outing, 11-4, but the Cavaliers were on the victorious side of all three one-goal games.
Mike Perkins put the Greyhounds in front after catching a Sirico skip pass 2:52 into the first quarter, but Virginia responded with goals at 8:27 and 5:38 by Dox Aitken and Joe French.
Jay Drapeau then tallied Loyola’s first behind-the-back goal at 4:53, catching a McGovern feed while crashing the crease to tie the game at 2-2. The Cavaliers, however, responded 21 seconds later as Jason Murphy scored on a Mike D’Amario assist for a 3-2 lead, one they would take into the second quarter.
Neither Loyola, nor Virginia would score in the first six minutes of the second frame, but Michael Kraus speed dodged from behind the cage to get free and score at 8:56, staking the Cavaliers to a two-goal advantage.
Virginia won the face-off, but a warding call on its clear gave the ball back to Loyola near midfield. Brian Begley took the ball behind the cage off the restart, got topside on the left and scored 36 seconds after Kraus’ goal.
Sirico then evened the game at 4-4 when McGovern threaded the Virginia defense with a pass, and Sirico scored from inside four years at 6:19.
Just five seconds later, Savio won the face-off going forward and scored low-to-high from nine yards, giving the Greyhounds a 5-4 advantage 6:14 before halftime.
That goal, however, would be Loyola’s last of the half and for more than 14 minutes of action. Virginia reeled off three in a row to end the quarter and two-straight to start the third. Conrad’s first of three second-half goals made it 10-5 Virginia with 7:50 to play in the stanza.
Peter Swindell snapped the Cavaliers’ run with a hard overhand shot at 7:05 off a Sirico assist, a goal that would ignite a 5-0 run for Loyola.
John Duffy scored back-to-back goals for the Greyhounds, the first coming just as an extra-man opportunity expired with 5:41 on the third-quarter clock. He then caught a Perkins feed while rolling to the middle alley, and he scored at 3:18 to pull Loyola within a pair.
McGovern notched his first goal as a Greyhound just 1:43 into the final quarter of regulation, taking a high-to-low Pat Spencer feed for a goal from four yards out on the right, and the Greyhounds trailed by one.
The Cavaliers won the ensuing faceoff but turned it over quickly. Foster Huggins quickly restarted play and sent a pass to Jared Mintzlaff who ran a one-man clear to score at 12:57, tying the game at 10-10.
Virginia regained the lead 38 seconds later when Aitken scored unassisted, and Conrad tacked on an unassisted tally at 11:27, pushing the Cavaliers’ advantage back to two.
Drapeau scored for Loyola, using a Spencer assist at 10:03, but goals by Kraus and Aitken put Virginia ahead 14-11 with 8:13 on the clock.
The Greyhounds, however, answered immediately as Savio won the face-off and sent an outlet pass to Begley. He split two defenders and scored down the middle nine seconds after Aitken’s goal. Loyola regained possession after a caused turnover by Zac Davliakos, and a holding penalty on the Cavaliers sent the Greyhounds on extra-man.
As the penalty expired, but before Virginia was back at even-strength, Duffy threw down to McGovern on the right side, and he scored his second of the game at 6:58. Sirico’s behind-the-back goal at 5:01 capped Loyola’s 3-0 run and tied the game for a fifth and penultimate time.
McGovern led Loyola with five points on two goals and three assists in his Greyhounds debut, and Sirico posted two goals and a pair of assists. Duffy had two goals and one helper, while Begley and Savio each had career-bests with two goals each. Perkins tallied a goal and an assist, as well for Loyola.
Aitken led all players with four goals, while Conrad had three for Virginia. Kraus recorded two goals and three assists, while Williams had one and three.
Loyola had a slim 43-40 advantage in shots and a 48-45 advantage in ground balls. The Greyhounds led 28-16 off the ground in the second half after Virginia had a 29-20 margin in the opening two quarters.
Savio led the way with a game-best 12 ground balls, while Davliakos also set a career-high with six.
Loyola returns to action against another highly-ranked team on Saturday, Feb. 18. The Greyhounds make the short trip to Homewood Field to face No. 8 Johns Hopkins University in a 1 p.m. game.