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The Greyhound

The Greyhound

Defense forces 22 turnovers as men’s lax tops Penn State


It’s impossible not to notice the similarities between the first two games of last season and the first two games of this season for the Loyola men’s lacrosse team.

In almost identical fashion to last season, the No. 7 Greyhounds (1-1) followed a one-goal season-opening loss to Virginia with a nail-biting 8-6 victory over No. 17 Penn State (1-1) for their first win of the season Saturday at Ridley Athletic Complex.

Much like last season’s matchup against the pesky Nittany Lions, the Hounds were in danger of falling to 0-2 on the season but pulled out the tight win.

Last year’s win over Penn State was a high-scoring overtime game won on a Nikko Pontrello goal. Saturday’s contest was a defensive struggle, keyed by 22 Penn State turnovers.

With Loyola holding a seemingly comfortable 7-2 lead with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, the Nittany Lions clawed back, scoring four unanswered goals to cut the Greyhounds’ lead to 7-6.

Trying to burn some clock, Loyola turned the ball over with just over three minutes left in the game, and Penn State had a chance to tie the score. But with 2:34 remaining, senior Mike Kutzer knocked the ball from the stick of Penn State’s Matt Florence in the box, and junior Jason Crane scooped up the ground ball for the Hounds.

With 1:36 left, sophomore Romar Dennis fired a shot past Lions goalkeeper Connor Darcey for his fourth goal of the young season, giving the Greyhounds an 8-6 lead. Loyola was then able to force another Penn State turnover before running out the rest of the clock for the victory.

Senior goalkeeper Pat McEnerney came up big for the Greyhounds to notch his first college victory. McEnerney finished the game with eight saves, including three in a 57-second span with Loyola clinging to a 7-6 lead in the fourth.

After the senior stopped a shot that Penn State’s Dan Craig flicked off the ground with 6:57 left in the game, Penn State had an extra-man opportunity, but Craig had another shot saved by McEnerney 30 seconds later. At the 6:00 mark, McEnerney knocked down a shot by T.J. Sanders, before sophomore Ryan Fournier picked up the ground ball to end the sequence.

“That was a big moment in the game for us,” McEnerney said of the fourth-quarter sequence. “At that point, we were only up by one, and if they score, it’s a tie game and it’s a totally different game. Our defense did a great job of getting those rebounds.”

Fournier led the defense with seven ground balls and three caused turnovers. Senior captain Pat Frazier picked up six ground balls and forced a trio of turnovers.

Although the Greyhounds only scored eight goals, they put constant pressure on Penn State the entire game, out-shooting the Nittany Lions 50-27. Darcey made 14 saves in goal for Penn State.

Junior Zach Herreweyers led the team with three goals, his second hat-trick in as many games this season. Sophomore Brian Sherlock had a team-high four points, on two goals and two assists. Pontrello was held without a goal on 10 shots, but did pick up four ground balls.

“We need Nikko getting those shots,” Loyola head coach Charley Toomey said of his senior captain, who led the team with 51 goals last season. “And they’re going to drop. I have no doubt in my mind that those shots are going to start dropping for him because he just plays with such energy. …I’m not worried about Nikko Pontrello.”

The Greyhounds will be back in action on Wednesday for a road contest at noon against a Towson team that upset sixth-ranked Johns Hopkins last week.

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Defense forces 22 turnovers as men’s lax tops Penn State