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Sharing the wealth, Loyola topples Towson, 14-9

Mike Sawyer scored four goals while six Greyhounds had at least two points.

Mike Sawyer scored four goals while six Greyhounds had at least two points.

On a piercingly cold night, led by four goals from Mike Sawyer, the Loyola Greyhounds men’s lacrosse team went the distance against local rival Towson for a 14-9 victory on Wednesday night.

With a bit of “first game jitters,” as put by Sawyer, out of the way the defending national champion Greyhounds showed just how potent their attack can be with five of their six offensive starters scoring at least two points while another multi-point scorer came off the bench.

In addition to Sawyer’s four-goals the Greyhounds got two goals each from Sean O’Sullivan and Kevin Ryan. Ryan came off the bench and added another assist while starting attackman Justin Ward was a part of four goals with a score and three assists while Chris Layne had a goal and two assists. Senior Midfielder Davis Butts did not get two points but he did net a goal.

“We have a lot of talent and we like to share the wealth,” Sawyer said. “It’s good to see everybody contributing. It just opens up everyone else and people are scoring on the left side because it’s hard to pull on our midfield.”

And that offensive dominance helped the defense look even better than they were as the Greyhounds dominated possession in the first quarter and outshot the Tigers 11-2 while ripping off the first four goals of the game.

A lot of that had to do with success at the face-off X, where Blake Burkhart won four of six in the first quarter and 16 of 28 in the game.

“Blake definitely gave us energy at the X winning some face-offs,” Loyola Head Coach Charles Toomey said. “We didn’t have any energy Saturday against Delaware so starting with the ball was a new concept for us and we’re appreciative of the effort…We like the energy we played with. We wanted to get back to playing fast.”

Fast, though, was matched with physicality. Junior defenseman Joe Fletcher was only slightly satisfied with the Greyhounds defensive effort that he said was “OK”, saying that “We showed really bright sports but some bad spots.” But even he cracked a little smile when talking about how physical the game was. “You got to be physical and own inside the crease,” he said. “That’s been the point since the first day, establishing the physical aspect of the game.”

While Towson scored a season-best nine goals in the game with four coming from Thomas DeNapoli they had to really work for every single one. Being pushed around, shoved, and having to battle through constant double-teams was almost commonplace for the Tigers but even more telling of how Loyola was physical and scrapped through the entire game was their plus-15 ground ball advantage, getting 39 to Towson’s 14, which also really helped the Greyhounds dominant the possession game.

Three minutes into the game Ward made a hard push towards the goal and drew the Towson defense but hit Sawyer on the outside with a pass and he finished with a low shot for the first goal of the game, which sparked the four-goal run that ended with an extra-man goal after a busted play that the ball came loose during but Ryan scooped and ripped his shot in the net.

Finally with a good possession DeNapoli scored Towson’s first goals with only 1:09 left in the first quarter and had to fight off a barrage of defenders in order to get it.

Sawyer and Ryan scored consecutive goals to start the first quarter, Sawyer’s coming not even 90 seconds out of the break, to take a 6-1 lead but like they did against Johns Hopkins on Saturday, Towson made a run, scoring three goals in only two minutes to get back in the game.

At the 8:51 mark Ben McCarty made a run around the back of the goals and tossed it to Paul Danko on the redirection. Danko then made his way around, tucked the ball and went under for a shot and score. Then, 51 seconds later DeNapoli looked more like a power forward in basketball than an attackman in lacrosse as he patiently posted up his man outside the crease before a teammate came over and set a screen, allowing DeNapoli to roll off and his a one-on-one shot. Greg Cuccinello completed the run with a great effort as he stepped through multiple defenders, slide at the last second and bounced on past Loyola goalkeeper Jack Runkel’s feet.

But Loyola was able to settle down and put a stop to that run with two more goals before the half and two coming out of the half to take a 10-4 lead. However, after exchanging a pair of goals Towson went on another run to get back into the game, scoring four of the next five over a 15 minute span the stretched from the 4:48 mark in the third to the 4:23 mark in the fourth quarter. But against, Loyola was able to stop the bleeding and in the final seconds scored two empty net goals to pad their score.

It was those runs, though that made Fletcher unsatisfied with his team’s defensive effort. “We need to work on not giving up runs,” he said. “If they get a goal we need to stop them right away, not let them get three or four like they did today.”

Still, though, the Greyhounds looked the superior bunch and while Towson made things interesting Loyola’s offense stepped up and got the big plays when they needed.

Towson Head Coach Shawn Nadelan, though, just wished that his team would “figure out how to not just give games away.” For the second-straight game Nadelan commended his team’s effort and intensity and the way they fought back, after slamming them after their season-opening loss against High Point, but had little good to say about the team’s mental mistakes.

“We made just way, way too many mental mistakes, specifically on the defensive end,” he said. “Execution mistakes on the offensive end were just careless ball-handling. We’re our own worst enemy now.”

Cuccinello, who recorded his second-straight multi-goal game, said that the Tigers need to come out better in the first and third quarters to really contend in close games. “That goes back to last year,” he said. “It starts at the face-off X and even defensively we have to come out faster and with more intensity. In close game the first goal and the first goal of the second half are huge. We have to come out more focused.”

Cuccinello had two goals and an assist while Andrew Hodgson scored two goals in the game and McCarty had two assists.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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