Loyola (Md.) wins record 14th game
Greyhounds run past Fairfield to capture ECAC championship
DENVER -- Third-ranked Loyola (Md.) used an 8-1 run that spanned three quarters to take control of the ECAC championship game, and the Greyhounds defeated No. 16 Fairfield 14-7 to claim the league crown at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
The Greyhounds set a school record in the process, winning their 14th game of the season.
“I have a special group of young men who come to play everyday,” Loyola head coach Charley Toomey said. “I thought they were relentless on the ground balls, and I thought they played so hard on both the offensive and defensive ends. Their will won us this game.”
Fairfield (12-4 overall) pulled within a goal when Sam Snow scored with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but Loyola got a once-in-a-lifetime goal from defender Reid Acton.
Loyola goalkeeper Jack Runkel made a save on a Fairfield shot, and he passed the ball to Acton. Acton threw the ball nearly 75 yards, and it went over the stick of Fairfield goalkeeper Charlie Cipriano to make the score 5-3 with one second to go in the first quarter.
Justin Ward and Mike Sawyer scored in the second quarter, and Loyola only allowed one Fairfield goal to lead 7-4 at the half. The Greyhounds then scored five in a row to start the second half, outscoring Fairfield 4-0 in the third quarter and going up 12-4 when Chris Layne scored with 13:50 left in regulation.
Sawyer led all players with three goals, his 12th hat trick of the season, and Ward and Layne each had two goals. Ward also added three assists. Ten players scored for the team in all.
Loyola long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player. He had a goal and assist, as well as seven ground balls in the title game and finished the tournament with three goals, two assists and 15 ground balls.
“Scott Ratliff gets us going between the lines, him and his running mates,” Toomey said. “They were not going to be denied.”
Ratliff added, “It’s a great feeling [to win the tournament]. It is really the first goal that we have accomplished that we set out to do at the beginning of the season. You hope to win every game, but in terms of goal, it’s win the conference, and we knocked the first goal out.”
Ratliff got the scoring under way when a Fairfield clear went bad, and Ward picked up the ground ball. He raced back into the box and passed it to a crashing Ratliff who scored three minutes into the game.
Fairfield evened the score quickly when John Snellman had his shot blocked only to pick up the ground ball and score on the rebound at 10:23.
Loyola jumped right back in front as J.P. Dalton pushed the faceoff in front to himself, picked up the ground ball and scored eight seconds later.
Eric Warden tied the game for Fairfield at 3:53, but the Stags would keep it tied for only nine seconds.
The Greyhounds got possession on a false start by Fairfield on the faceoff, and Davis Butts picked up the ball, drove down the middle and threw a pass to Sawyer on the left side. Sawyer ripped a goal from 10 yards out to give Loyola a lead it would hold for the rest of the game.
Ward put the Greyhounds up two with 2:20 left in the first quarter catching a Layne pass after the midfielder used a hard dodge down the left side and found Ward on the crease. Snow would make it 4-3, but Acton would put Loyola back up two.
Loyola scored again in transition less than five minutes into the second when Ratliff picked up a ground ball off a Fairfield turnover and passed it to Ward for the goal. Sawyer then added another deep shot with 7:44 to go before the half off a Ward helper.
Snellman scored his second, and final, of the game on a bouncer from the left side with 1:58 on the first-half clock, sending the teams to the locker room with Loyola in front 7-4.
The Greyhounds, who had outscored opponents 51-20 in the third quarter this season entering the championship game, came out and scored four unanswered in the period.
Layne started the scoring with a goal off a dodge frommidfield, and Sawyer added one in an unsettled situation that Eric Lusby assisted.
Lusby then got one himself at 6:58, and Sean O’Sullivan scored with 4:32 on the clock. Layne tallied his second of the game 1:10 into the fourth quarter, making it 12-4 Loyola.
Nikko Pontrello would score in the fourth quarter, and Brian Schultz scored the first of his career in the final minute to bring the final to 14-7.
Loyola dominated nearly every statistic in the game, outshooting Fairfield 43-39 and picking up 33 ground balls to the Stags’ 23. The Greyhounds also forced 19 Fairfield turnovers and committed only eight themselves.
Fletcher led all players with five caused turnovers, while Reid Acton had three ground balls and Grimm added two. Josh Hawkins had four ground balls as well for Loyola.