Hounds rally past Hoyas, roll over Lafayette

The Loyola University Maryland men’s lacrosse team extended its winning streak to eight games this past week, after battling past Georgetown Wednesday on the road, 10-9, and obliterating Lafayette at Ridley on Saturday, 21-4. The pair of wins, accompanied by Maryland’s loss to North Carolina, has launched the Greyhounds (8-1 overall, 4-0 Patriot League) to the No. 1 spot in the Warrior Media Poll.

Men’s lacrosse has now won eight consecutive games, narrowly defeating Georgetown Wednesday and storming past Lafayette on Saturday.
Men’s lacrosse has now won eight consecutive games, narrowly defeating Georgetown Wednesday and storming past Lafayette on Saturday.

The Hounds received a scare from the Georgetown Hoyas, falling behind, 9-8, early in the fourth quarter. It was the first time the Hounds had trailed in the fourth quarter since their season-opening loss at Virginia.
Luckily for the Hounds, junior Nikko Pontrello, the nation’s leading goal-scorer, found the net twice in the game’s final seven minutes to push Loyola’s win streak to seven games.
Saturday afternoon’s game against Lafayette was the polar opposite of Wednesday’s nail-biter in D.C. In similar fashion to their win over Towson earlier this season, the Greyhounds stormed past the Lafayette Leopards (1-6, 1-4 PL) to remain undefeated in Patriot League play.
Nine Greyhounds scored in the win over Lafayette, including four with hat tricks. Pontrello and seniors Justin Ward and Brian Schultz each scored four goals apiece, while redshirt freshman Brian Sherlock added three.
Ward, the nation’s assist leader, added four more against the Leopards to finish the game with a team-high eight points. Schultz, whose four goals were a career-high, finished with five points and three ground balls.
“Winning two one-goal games against two very respectable teams in Army and Georgetown forced us to think a little bit, in a good way and a bad way,” Ward said after the Lafayette game. “I think we figured things out today.”
On Wednesday, Georgetown (3-5 overall) dominated the Greyhounds in faceoffs, winning 15-of-22 during the game. The Hoyas also picked up 30 ground balls compared to Loyola’s 26.
The Hounds knew it was going to be an uphill battle when they found themselves behind 2-0 in the game’s opening minute. Georgetown’s Tyler Knarr won the opening faceoff and Devon Lewis scored the first goal of the game for the Hoyas, before Knarr won the ensuing faceoff and scored the next goal himself.
The Greyhounds were able to find the scoreboard a couple minutes later when senior Pat Laconi took a pass from Sherlock and scored in transition. Senior Matt Sawyer then evened the score at 2-2 on a goal from the right side.
Both teams would continue to trade goals for the remainder of the first quarter until sophomore Tyler Albrecht finally gave the Hounds their first lead of the game at 5-4 with 12:07 left in the first half.
The Greyhounds’ offense was shut out for the remainder of the half, however, and Peter Conley was able to find the net two more times for the Hoyas to give them a 6-5 lead at the half. For the first time since their season-opener, the Greyhounds found themselves behind at halftime.
The Hounds were in a slightly deeper hole after a Charles McCormick goal gave Georgetown a 7-5 lead with 11:30 remaining in the third quarter.
As expected, though, the Greyhounds fought back to tie the game at 7 apiece on goals by Schultz and Pontrello. Another goal by Schultz gave Loyola its second lead of the game, 8-7, to close the third quarter.
The Hoyas were not fazed. Another Lewis goal evened the score at 8-8, before Georgetown won yet another faceoff, resulting in another goal to give the Hoyas a 9-8 lead with 11:19 left in the game.
Operating in unfamiliar territory, as the Hounds have rarely trailed late in games this season, Loyola responded in clutch fashion. After Pontrello evened the score yet again with 7:55 remaining, he was able to put the Greyhounds in front, 10-9, after scoring with just 52 seconds left with a 30-second warning on.
With the Hoyas desperately trying to force a seventh tie to send the game into overtime, junior David Manning was able to check the ball away from Georgetown’s Bo Stafford, and senior Joe Fletcher scooped up the ground ball to ice the game and avoid the upset.
On Saturday’s game against Patriot League foe Lafayette, the Leopards controlled the ball for the first minute and a half of the game. After Laconi forced a turnover, the game was over; the Hounds poured it on from there. Schultz recorded a hat trick just eight minutes into the game, before the rest of his teammates got in on the action.
With 7:07 left in the first quarter, Fletcher scored the first goal of his collegiate career to give the Hounds a 5-1 lead. Junior Mike Kutzer also scored his first-ever collegiate goal to give Loyola a 20-3 lead in the third quarter.
Senior goalkeeper Jack Runkel converted five saves in just 39 minutes of action, before giving way to junior Pat McEnerney and freshman Sam Beazell. McEnerney stopped two shots, while Beazell did not surrender a goal.
“I thought that our guys played at a different pace today,” Loyola head coach Charley Toomey said. “I thought that our spacing was much better. We looked more organized on both sides of the field, and I’m real proud of the guys’ effort today.”
The Greyhounds will travel to No. 18 Colgate for a 12 p.m. contest next Saturday, March 29.