Loyola defenseman Ryan Fournier scoops the ball up away from the Navy offense in the second quarter. The Navy Midshipmen played the visiting Loyola Greyhounds in men's NCAA lacrosse Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Loyola defenseman Ryan Fournier scoops the ball up away from the Navy offense in the second quarter. The Navy Midshipmen played the visiting Loyola Greyhounds in men's NCAA lacrosse Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (By Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

Loyola Maryland owns a 5-1 record against Bucknell and took the most recent meeting 14-3 on March 26 at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore. The Bison have not lost since, winning five straight. The Greyhounds are enjoying a six-game winning streak and have not suffered a setback since March 19, when they fell to No. 9 Navy, 10-9.

Bucknell (10-4), which is 4-2 away from Lewisburg, Pa., is the No. 3 seed in the Patriot League tournament and defeated No. 6 seed Holy Cross, 13-7, in one of Tuesday's two quarterfinals. During the team's winning streak, the defense has surrendered an average of just 7.6 goals. Freshman goalkeeper Christian Klipstein made 21 saves in Tuesday's contest, surpassing the previous conference tournament record for saves in a game of 17 by Army's Tom Palesky against the Bison in 2010.


No. 11 Loyola (10-3), which is 5-1 away from Baltimore, is the No. 2 seed and enjoyed a bye from Tuesday's quarterfinal round. The offense has scored 12.0 goals per game during the team's run. After scoring 11 goals on 55 shots in his first seven contests, senior attackman Zach Herreweyers has scored 12 goals on 21 attempts in his last three games.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

1) Containing Bucknell's Will Sands. Sands, the Bison's first 60-point scorer since Billy Eisenreich finished with 66 in 2012, posted seven assists and 10 points in the team's victory over Holy Cross. The sophomore attackman eclipsed the previous Patriot League tournament record for assists (six) and points (nine) set by Colgate's Peter Baum in 2012. But against Loyola, Sands was shut out and turned the ball over five times against sophomore defenseman Foster Huggins.

"He knows Sands, and he should have some confidence," Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said of Huggins. "I think Sands is a better player since the first time we saw him. I think he's very confident getting to his left as much as he is getting to his right. But we're pretty fortunate in that Foster gets a chance to play against [freshman attackman Pat] Spencer an awful lot here. So we feel like we're able to give him a good look every day in practice."

2) Battling Bucknell on faceoffs. Freshman Jarett Witzal has been named the Patriot League's Faceoff Specialist of the Week for each of the last three weeks and with a 10-of-18 outing against Holy Cross, Witzal now has won 165 draws, breaking Jake Clarke's single-season record of 163 faceoff wins. Witzal won just 5-of-10 draws against Loyola, but Toomey said the Greyhounds must be wary of Witzal and his teammates on the wings like long-stick midfielders Alex Spring (73 ground balls) and Matt Gilray (44).

"We've got to do a good job at the X," Toomey said. "We've got to give ourselves a chance to make it a 50-50. I think their poles are excellent in Spring and Gilray. I think they're great off the ground. They're as good as any poles out there, and we've got to take custody of those guys coming from the X if they're able to pick it up."

3) Putting on Showtime. Like the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s, Loyola wants to run, taking off for fastbreaks and applying pressure to opponents' ability to trade offensive midfielders for defensive personnel. In the regular-season win against Bucknell, the team got a pair of goals from junior long-stick midfielder Ryan Fournier, who was assisted by fifth-year senior short-stick defensive midfielder Mike Kutzer and Huggins. Toomey said navigating the Bison's 10-man ride is a concern, but it shouldn't deter the Greyhounds from seeking transition opportunities.

"We have to play Loyola lacrosse," he said. "If we have an opportunity to run, we've got to play fast. We can see that Bucknell's doing a really good job of getting in and really limiting their opponents' transition. Hopefully, we can pick up some ground balls and get them over the top and score some easy goals. That was a product of the first time around, but I haven't seen those goals against Bucknell in the last four weeks. I'm sure that's something they probably addressed and rectified. But that's also our identity. We're going to continue to try to do that."

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