BALTIMORE -- Top-ranked Loyola (Md.) completed a perfect debut season in the Patriot League with a convincing 16-7 victory against No. 18 Lehigh in the Men's Lacrosse Championship on Sunday at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Loyola took control with a six-goal run in the first half and used two separate four-goal runs in the second half as it cruised to the largest margin of victory in the 11 years of the Patriot League Championship game.
The Greyhounds (14-1) won their 14th straight game, 10 of which have come against Patriot League opponents after they went 8-0 in league action and beat Colgate 12-6 in the semifinals of the tournament on Friday. Loyola earns the Patriot League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Lehigh (13-5) was trying to win a third consecutive Patriot League title. The Mountain Hawks, who were the third seed in the league tournament, beat Army 12-11 in the semifinals on Friday.
Lehigh came out with the first goal as Patrick Corbett scored unassisted at 13:49, but Loyola had the lead by the end of the first quarter. Tyler Albrecht tallied on a rebound off the crossbar to even the score at 1 at 7:21, and Nikko Pontrello scored off a Justin Ward assist with 4:55 left to give Loyola the 2-1 lead.
Pontrello gave the Greyhounds a 3-1 lead on a goal with 14:04 to go in the second quarter, and Loyola continued the surge nearly 3 minutes later when Matt Sawyer scored off an assist from Brian Schultz at the 11:14 mark. Sawyer was at it again a little more than 2 minutes later as he scored off a pass from Brian Sherlock for a 5-1 lead that forced a Lehigh timeout with 8:53 to go in the second quarter. That did not stop the momentum, as Kevin Ryan scored an extra-man goal off pass from Schultz for a 6-1 lead with 5:52 to go into the half. Lehigh finally put a stop to the run on a goal by Dan Taylor with 2:59 until the half, and tallied again 29 seconds later when Dylan O'Shaughnessy scored an extra-man goal from Taylor to get within 6-3. Loyola got the four-goal lead back going into the half when Schultz scored off an assist from Ward with 13.9 seconds left in the period.
The Greyhounds held a 28-15 edge in shots in the first half, with goalkeeper Matt Poillon helping keep Lehigh in the game with 11 saves. Jack Runkel did his part on the other end for Loyola with six saves in the cage.
Lehigh converted on the EMO again with Kurtis Kaunas scoring from Taylor to cut the gap to 7-4 with 13:47 left in the third quarter. But it was all Greyhounds from there as they scored eight of the next nine goals.
Loyola got the four-goal lead back on its EMO with Sawyer scoring from Ward at the 9:34 mark, with Ward tying the Patriot League single-season record with his 48th assist of the year on the play. The Greyhounds bumped their lead back to five when Schultz scored from Pontrello at 2:39 of the third, and took their biggest lead of the day at 10-4 on Ryan's goal with just 12 seconds left in the quarter.
Loyola took a seven-goal lead on an unassisted goal by Sherlock less than 2 minutes into the fourth quarter. Lehigh stopped the four-goal run on a tally by Corbett with 11:02 left, but Sherlock scored off an assist from Pontrello at 9:45, Ward tallied off an assist from Derek Zook with 6:18 to play, Sawyer scored unassisted with 4:33 to go and Schultz tallied with 2:38 left for another four-goal Loyola run as the Greyhounds went on to the 16-7 win.
Runkel made 15 saves in the game after stopping 11 against Colgate on Friday, and was named Patriot League tournament most valuable player for his performance in goal. He was joined on the Patriot League all-tournament team from Loyola by Ward, Schultz and senior defenseman Joe Fletcher.
Schultz led the Greyhounds with five points in the game on three goals and two assists, while Sawyer had four goals, Pontrello had two goals and two assists and Ward notched a goal and three assists. Sherlock added two goals and an assist and Ryan had two goals to give the Greyhounds six players with multiple points.
Corbett had three goals for Lehigh, while Taylor put up two goals and two assists. Poillon had 14 saves in the contest, and made the all-tournament team along with Taylor and senior defenseman Ty Souders.
Colgate's Ryan Walsh and Alex Kinnealey and Army's John Glesener and Jimbo Moore filled out the Patriot League all-tournament team.
Loyola's nine-goal margin of victory was the largest ever in a Patriot League Championship game, and the 16 goals tied the tournament record for total goals by one team. The Greyhounds' 26 points (16 goals, 10 assists) set a tournament record, too.
Loyola's 14 wins in a row ties the program record for most consecutive victories (2012). It is also matches the 2012 team's mark as the seventh longest in the NCAA since 2002.