Loyola long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff scored right off the faceoff to open overtime, erasing a nightmarish fourth-quarter collapse by the Greyhounds and lifting them to a 14-13 win over host Denver in an Eastern College Athletic Conference men’s lacrosse semifinal Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Greyhounds, who defeated No. 4 seed Denver on its home field for the second time in 2 ½ weeks, advance to Friday afternoon’s ECAC championship, where they will face No. 3 seed Fairfield, which defeated No. 2 seed Ohio State, 8-7, in Wednesday's other semifinal.
Ranked No. 3 in The Baltimore Sun's Top 20, Loyola showcased its offensive balance in the first half against the Pioneers (who are ranked ninth), with eight players scoring as the Greyhounds took an 8-5 lead into the break.
Denver midfielder Chase Carraro won the faceoff to begin the second half and took the ball right to the net, beating Loyola goalkeeper Jack Runkel to cut the deficit to 8-6. Loyola then went on a 5-0 run to seize a 13-6 lead.
But that’s when everything fell apart for the Greyhounds. Fueled in part by Carraro’s dominance at the faceoff X, the Pioneers scored the next seven goals, the final coming off the stick of Cameron Flint with 3:30 left.
Loyola controlled possession for the final few minutes and had the ball in the final seconds, but solid defense by Denver held the Greyhounds without a shot as the horn sounded.
With all the momentum seemingly on the Pioneers’ side, Ratliff silenced the crowd, scooping a ground ball off the draw, sprinting downfield and firing a low shot that bounced past goalie Ryan LaPlante. It was the second goal of the game for Ratliff, who added a game-high nine ground balls two days after being named ECAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Eric Lusby (Severna Park) and Phil Dobson also had two goals for Loyola.
In Wednesday's other ECAC semifinal, Fairfield advanced to its second consecutive ECAC championship game as Charlie Cipriano made 14 saves, with two coming in the final 3:45. The second save led to the game-winning goal, as Colin McLinden fed Sam Snow with 2:49 to play in regulation. Cipriano then denied the Buckeyes again with 77 seconds remaining to preserve the win. Snow and John Snellman both recorded hat tricks in the game, while McLinden handed out three assists.
More Division I games: Top-ranked Massachusetts (14-0) proved too much for Towson (7-8) in a Colonial Athletic Association semifinal. The host Minutemen scored three goals in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Tigers, 10-3. Colin Fleming had four goals for UMass, which will host Drexel on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Dragons (8-7) earned a 13-11 upset victory over host No. 10 Penn State (9-6).
Division III game: Matt Lynch had four goals and four assists to power host Goucher (16-1) to a 13-6 decision over Catholic (9-6) in a Landmark Conference semifinal. The Gophers will host Drew, a 15-9 winner over Scranton, in Saturday's championship at 1 p.m.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun