The Loyola men's lacrosse team made sure overtime was not even a possibility Saturday.
No. 7 Loyola took a lead with 1:29 left in the first quarter and never relinquished it en route to an 8-4 win over No. 13 Johns Hopkins before an announced 7,905 at Homewood Field in Baltimore. It was in stark contrast to last year, when the Greyhounds opened with a nearly 19-minute scoreless stretch and surrendered five goals in a 10-9 overtime setback to the Blue Jays.
The victory helped the reigning national champions snap a 13-game losing streak to Johns Hopkins, capturing their first win in the series since 1999 and their first triumph at Homewood Field since 1998. The victory also may have cemented an at-large bid for Loyola (11-3) even if the team falters in the upcoming Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament.
Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said the outcome was a just reward for the 14-member senior class.
"We talked a little bit earlier in the week about something they hadn't accomplished as a group and they led the preparation for this week as well as any team that I've ever been associated with," he said. "We were ready to come in here and be loaded for a bear, and that's what we needed. We needed a 60-minute game against a very good team."
Senior attackman Mike Sawyer, who led all scorers with three goals, scored in each of the first three quarters and his last tally kicked off a game-ending 3-0 run.
"I didn't force the issue," said Sawyer, who registered his third consecutive hat trick and his seventh of the season. "I just let the game come to me. I waited for my opportunities to come, and I was on the receiving end with three there."
Three Greyhounds — senior midfielder Sean O'Sullivan, junior midfielder Kevin Ryan and senior short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins — each finished with a goal and an assist, but it was the play of the defense that shared the limelight.
That unit limited a Blue Jays offense that ranked sixth in Division I with a 12.3 goal average to its lowest output since an 8-2 loss to Navy on April 21, 2012. Sophomore attackman Wells Stanwick, who led Johns Hopkins in both assists (21) and points (44), had an assist during an unsettled situation, but was otherwise blanketed by junior defenseman Joe Fletcher.
Junior goalkeeper Jack Runkel made 10 saves, and the Blue Jays' starting midfield of senior Lee Coppersmith, junior Rob Guida and freshman Ryan Brown was held scoreless on 16 shots.
"All week, we were preparing to just slide fast," said Fletcher, who scooped up a team-best five ground balls. "The past couple weeks, we were a little hesitant just helping each other out. We did a good job of almost relaxing and going as the game came to us just by sliding and having each other's support. We allowed Runk to see the net and have them take wider shots, and that helped us out."
With Loyola leading 4-3 at halftime, both sides traded goals within a five-second span in the first minute of the third quarter. But Sawyer gave the Greyhounds a 6-4 advantage when he took Johns Hopkins junior short-stick defensive midfielder James Malm down the left alley, turned back toward the center and side-armed the ball past senior goalie Pierce Bassett (12 saves) with 6:10 left in the period.
Senior Davis Butts padded the lead to three with 9:06 remaining in the fourth quarter when he bounced a shot from the doorstep past Bassett. And Loyola sealed the victory when O'Sullivan found Ryan alone on the left crease during an extra-man opportunity with 3:13 left in regulation.
Junior attackman Brandon Benn was the only Blue Jay with a multiple-point outing, scoring twice. Johns Hopkins, which was forced to play without junior short-stick defensive midfielder Phil Castronova after he tore his left Achilles tendon while jumping up and down with his teammates prior to the game, fell to 8-5 despite outpointing the Greyhounds in shots (36-28), faceoffs (11-4) and ground balls (28-25).
"It's frustrating," Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala said. "When you look at the statistics, you think, 'Wow, we played well enough to win.' We sure didn't play well enough in the fourth quarter. They made the plays they needed to, and I don't think we did."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun