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The Greyhound

No. 1 Greyhounds overcome slow start, knock off Hopkins

The Loyola University Maryland men’s lacrosse team silenced its critics on Saturday, shaking off a slow start to take down arch-rival Johns Hopkins, 13-10, in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,000 at Ridley Athletic Complex.
The No. 1 Greyhounds (15-1 overall) extended their winning streak to 15 games, a new program record. Loyola has now defeated Hopkins two years in a row in the annual “Battle of Charles Street.”
The Hounds dominated No. 6 Hopkins (10-4 overall) in the ground ball category, picking up 52 ground balls compared to 33 for the Blue Jays. Freshman Graham Savio recorded 12 of those ground balls, a career-high. Savio also won 17-of-26 faceoffs to key the victory.
Things did not start out smoothly for the Greyhounds, who found themselves down 3-0 just four minutes into the game.
Rob Guida scored two of the Blue Jays’ first three goals, with the other coming from Brandon Benn. After Guida’s second goal put Loyola in a three-goal deficit, head coach Charley Toomey called timeout.
“I told them to breathe,” Toomey said. “[I said] let’s just take our time. Let’s manage a possession right now. The guys managed that timeout, came out and put momentum back in our favor.”
The Greyhounds not only breathed; they breathed fire. With 10:34 remaining in the first quarter, redshirt freshman Brian Sherlock picked up a ground ball and fired from 10 yards out to put Loyola on the board.
After an illegal body check penalty against Hopkins, senior Matt Sawyer scored Loyola’s second goal of the day on an assist by senior Justin Ward.
After another goal by Guida gave the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead, junior Nikko Pontrello and senior Pat Laconi both scored to start the second quarter, tying the game at four apiece. The Greyhounds would not trail for the remainder of the afternoon.
However, both teams would trade scores throughout the second quarter. Sophomore Jeff Chase would twice give Loyola the lead, but Hopkins evened the score after both of Chase’s goals.
Sherlock scored with 3:47 remaining in the first half to give the Greyhounds a 7-6 lead. On the ensuing faceoff, Savio scooped up the ground ball, raced down the field and scored the first goal of his collegiate career to give the Hounds an 8-6 lead. The goals by Sherlock and Savio were just four seconds apart, tying the NCAA Division I record for fastest goals by players on the same team.
Loyola padded its lead coming out of halftime, as goals by red-hot senior Brian Schultz and Pontrello gave the Greyhounds a 10-6 cushion.
The Blue Jays would not go down quietly, though, as back-to-back goals by Ryan Brown trimmed Loyola’s lead to 10-8 with 9:35 remaining in the third quarter.
The Greyhounds would then score three straight to give them a comfortable 13-8 lead in the fourth quarter, and the fans at Ridley were starting to feel it.
Brown and Holden Cattoni scored the final goals of the game for Hopkins to make it 13-10, but the Loyola defense surrendered nothing more to complete the victory.
Ward and Pontrello inched closer to individual single-season Loyola records during the victory. Ward’s four assists gave him 69 total points on the season, just two behind his former teammate Eric Lusby, who totaled 71 points during Loyola’s National Championship season in 2012.
Pontrello’s three goals gave him 50 on the season, making him the fourth player in Loyola’s Division I history to score 50 goals in a season, joining Lusby (54 in 2012), Mike Sawyer (52 in 2012) and Tim Goettelmann (50 in 2000).
Facing a top-10 Hopkins team was just what the Greyhounds needed heading into the NCAA Tournament, which begins next weekend. Loyola hadn’t faced a top-10 opponent since its 14-7 win over Duke on March 9.
“It’s huge for us,” Ward said, regarding facing and defeating a top-10 opponent. “Not to discredit the Patriot League, but the style that they play is much different than what we’re going to see come NCAA Tournament time,” Ward said.
This latest Loyola victory should all but seal its positioning as one of the top three seeds in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Greyhounds will find out their first Tournament opponent during the Selection Show tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.

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No. 1 Greyhounds overcome slow start, knock off Hopkins