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The Greyhound

Hounds rout Duke, battle past Army

The Loyola University Maryland men’s lacrosse team refused to take its foot off the gas this past week, reeling off two more victories over No. 4 Duke (14-7), and Army (7-6), extending the Greyhounds’ winning streak to six games.

The Greyhounds improved to 6-1 with a pounding of Duke on national television and a close win over Patriot League foe Army.
The Greyhounds improved to 6-1 with a pounding of Duke on national television and a close win over Patriot League foe Army.

The No. 2 Greyhounds (6-1 overall, 3-0 Patriot League), who were ranked fifth in the Warrior Media Poll at the time, put on a powerful offensive display last Sunday in front of 3,912 fans at Ridley Athletic Complex. Senior Matt Sawyer and junior Nikko Pontrello combined for 11 of Loyola’s 14 goals in the statement win over the Blue Devils (6-2 overall).
The win over Duke not only catapulted the Hounds to the No. 2 spot in the Warrior Media Poll, but it also avenged last season’s first-round NCAA Tournament overtime loss to the Blue Devils, which ended Loyola’s season. Loyola head coach Charley Toomey did not hesitate to admit what this win meant to him.
“I’ve been here a long, long time at Loyola, and I don’t have many sweeter victories than that one,” Toomey said. “Our guys played really hard; they played well together, and it was a great team win today.”
The Greyhounds’ victory over the Army Black Knights (4-3, 2-1 PL) on Saturday was much closer, but the Loyola defense came up huge at home. Senior and Team USA member Joe Fletcher came up with five ground balls, and senior goalkeeper Jack Runkel converted a remarkable 19 saves, to keep the Hounds unbeaten in conference play.
Loyola’s showdown against Duke started out as a tight contest, as one would expect a matchup between the past two national champions would be.
Pontrello kicked things off with an unassisted goal in the game’s first minute, before Duke’s Christian Walsh evened the score a minute later. The two teams would trade goals throughout the first quarter, and Duke took a 4-3 lead on a Jordan Wolf goal with 2:50 remaining in the opening quarter.
Entering the second quarter down by one, the Hounds would go on a 10-2 run to bury the defending national champs.
Sawyer would score four of his career-high six goals during the furious Loyola run, and Pontrello would also score four goals during that span, with five on the evening. Pontrello currently leads the team with 26 goals on the season.
The Greyhounds would take a 7-4 lead with 8:14 remaining in the first half on a goal by senior Brian Schultz, assisted by senior Justin Ward. It was the 85th assist of Ward’s collegiate career, making him Loyola’s all-time NCAA Division I assist leader.
Ward would score a goal of his own in the fourth quarter, to give the Hounds a commanding 13-6 lead. The senior finished the game with five points with a goal and four assists.
The Hounds outshot the Blue Devils, 39-31, while Runkel had nine saves on the evening.
On Saturday, the offenses of Loyola and Army were kept at bay. The Hounds shot just 20 percent from the field with seven goals on 35 shots, but the Greyhounds’ defense saved the day.
Fletcher led the way, holding John Glesener, Army’s leading scorer, to just two goals on 22 shots. Fletcher and Glesener were teammates at West Genesse High School in Syracuse.
The Hounds appeared to be on their way to their fifth straight blowout victory after seniors Kevin Ryan and Pat Laconi each found the net to give Loyola a 2-0 lead in the game’s first five minutes.
The Loyola offense would then go stone-cold, only tallying one more goal for the remainder of the first half. Both offenses were shut out in the second quarter, and the game was knotted at 3-3 at halftime.
After a Shea Mullins goal gave the Black Knights their first lead of the game, 4-3, early in the third quarter, the Hounds offense finally broke out of their slump. Ryan’s second goal of the game evened the score at 4 apiece with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Loyola would extend its lead to 7-4 with 8:52 left in the game, on goals by Schultz, Pontrello and junior Pat Frazier.
However, Army did not make life easy for the Greyhounds. Loyola found itself clinging to a 7-6 lead in the final seconds after goals by Glesener and Will Mazzone.
The Black Knights had two chances to send the game into overtime in the final six seconds. Glesener’s shot sailed wide right with six ticks remaining, and Army called a timeout. Glesener then attempted to get past Fletcher for one final shot, but his 22nd attempt flew wide left with just a second left, sealing the deal.
The Black Knights gave the Greyhounds everything they could handle, and Coach Toomey believes his squad will meet them again this season in a postseason tournament.
“I fully anticipate that we’ll either be at Army seeing them later in the year, or they’ll be at Loyola.”
The Greyhounds next hit the road on Wednesday, March 19, against Georgetown University for a 6 p.m. face-off.

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Hounds rout Duke, battle past Army