The Eastern College Athletic Conference men's lacrosse title has belonged to Georgetown for six of the past eight years, but Loyola moved one step closer to cutting into the Hoyas' reign yesterday at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field.
The No. 18 Greyhounds never trailed and took sole possession of first place with an 11-9 victory over the No. 6 Hoyas. Shane Koppens came up huge for the Greyhounds with five goals and two assists, and generally dominated the attacking third of the field.
Loyola improved to 5-0 in the conference but has to go on the road to Fairfield and Hobart before it can clinch the title. Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said in addition to Koppens' explosiveness, one of the keys to the game was grabbing 33 ground balls, compared to 30 for Georgetown.
"We talked about how we had to win ground balls at home to give ourselves a chance to win," Toomey said. "I thought our wing play was terrific. From top to bottom, we competed today. We played awful hard. We have plenty of big wins around here."
Loyola led 8-7 heading into the final quarter, but the Hoyas tied the game 2:50 into the period when Todd Cochran took a pass from Andrew Brancaccio in front of the goal and fired a shot past Jake Hagelin (Boys' Latin).
But each time Georgetown scored, Koppens answered for the Greyhounds, who fought off a furious late rally by the Hoyas. Koppens scored three of his goals in the final nine minutes.
"I like having the ball in my stick," Koppens said. "I knew my teammates were going to set me with picks to let me get my hands free."
Tim McDermott won 12 of 19 faceoffs for the Greyhounds, and Hagelin finished with 11 saves. Brendan Cannon led Georgetown with three goals.
The Greyhounds opened the scoring two minutes into the game when Joe Landry made a nice run from the wing and whipped a shot past goalie Miles Kass from just outside the crease. In the opening quarter there were nine minutes in penalties on both teams, ranging from an illegal stick violation on the Hoyas (7-3 overall, 3-1) to unnecessary roughness on both teams. Loyola (6-4) had five of those penalty minutes, but each time the Hoyas broke down the Greyhounds' defense, Hagelin made a point-blank save.
"We just had to play with a lot of heart and we did. We stopped them," Hagelin said. "I mean I knew they were going to make a run and we had to fight back harder."
After being shut out in the first quarter, the Hoyas, who have won the past two conference titles, settled down and finally got on the board with 9:49 left in the half on an unassisted goal by Cannon.
Koppens answered for Loyola 1:22 later, but Dan D'Agnes and Brancaccio each scored goals 46 seconds apart for the Hoyas to cut the deficit to one. Jimmy Daly (McDonogh) gave the Greyhounds back the momentum with his unassisted goal with 5:03 left for a 5-3 lead at the half. The teams traded goals throughout the third quarter and Georgetown tied the game twice but could not take the lead.
Georgetown coach Dave Urick agreed with Toomey that the difference in the game was Loyola's ability to pick up ground balls.
"It was everything we expected to be in terms of the tenseness and closeness of it," Urick said. "The first quarter was a little crazy both ways. Once the teams got a chance to get up and down, it was a great game."
Georgetown 0 3 4 2 - 9
Loyola 2 3 3 3 - 11
Goals: G-Cannon 3, Brancaccio, Mirabito, Seligmann, D'Agnes, Schuville, Cochran; L-Koppens 5, Wilcox 2, Richards, Landry, Daly, Lusby. Assists: G-Brancaccio, Dowd, Mirabito; L-Koppens 2, Langan, Ricci, Richards. Saves: G-Kass 15; L-Hagelin 11.