Loyola on right track in ECAC

Hofstra coach returns to Hopkins Saturday

Men's Notebook

March 07, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

Loyola men's lacrosse coach Charley Toomey tried not to overstate the importance of the victory. Greyhounds junior attackman Shane Koppens did not attempt to downplay its significance.

One thing is certain. After erupting for seven fourth-quarter goals at Penn State on Saturday and scoring twice in the final 22 seconds to stun the Nittany Lions, 10-9, No. 20 Loyola is alive again.

The Greyhounds (1-2) did not look that way after losses to Notre Dame and Towson by a combined three goals.

But after falling behind 7-3 through three quarters, during which starting Loyola sophomore Alex Peaty got benched and the Greyhounds were shut down by Penn State goalie Drew Adams, Loyola broke through and won its ECAC opener.

"I don't like to say our season was riding on this, but it was our ECAC opener and we had to stop the bleeding," Toomey said. "We took the game into our hands. We didn't let it come to us."

Loyola played like a desperate team and found a way to cover every phase of the game when it counted most. In the fourth quarter, the Greyhounds dominated ground balls, 17-7. Senior Dan Kallaugher, a graduate student from Yale, won eight of 10 faceoffs. Loyola outshot Penn State 13-3 and started its comeback with back-to-back man-down goals.

Koppens, who missed last season with a broken wrist and already leads Loyola with 12 points, had two goals and two assists in the final quarter.

He fed senior Dan Bauers for the game-tying goal with 22 seconds left, then converted a diving shot on the crease with 4.4 seconds remaining.

"After not getting a win in the first two games, we were thinking what's wrong with us? This is our year," Koppens said. "If we had gone 0-3, our heads would have been down. We looked at it as a must-win. We can't look back now."

Beating top-ranked Duke on Saturday will be a monumental task for Loyola, but beating Penn State accomplished an important mission. The Greyhounds are 1-0 in the ECAC, which will send its regular-season champion to the NCAA tournament.

And if Loyola gets into its first NCAA tournament since 2001, the Greyhounds will look back on the day they came to life at Penn State.

Return to Homewood

Hofstra coach Seth Tierney has a lot on his mind this week. The first-year coach of the 18th-ranked Pride is off to a 1-1 start with a team that lost nearly its entire starting lineup and several critical reserves after going 17-2 in 2006.

Next is a trip on Saturday to No. 4 Johns Hopkins, where Tierney spent six seasons as the offensive coordinator under coach Dave Pietramala and helped the Blue Jays win the NCAA title in 2005.

Tierney said Pietramala called him last summer and said he'd be open to dropping the game for a year. Tierney said he got the same offer from his uncle, Princeton coach Bill Tierney. He turned down both of them.

"It's going to be different going downstairs into the [visiting] locker room [at Homewood]," said Tierney, a 1991 Hopkins graduate who played with Pietramala.

"We're still very close. We talked earlier and I asked him do we talk this week? Are we going to talk at midfield [during pre-game warm-ups]? It's going to be different."

Clutch coaching

When Hopkins dropped its season opener to Albany, 8-7, it marked only the sixth loss by one goal under Pietramala. By coming back to edge Princeton, 7-6, in double overtime on Saturday, the Blue Jays went back to business as usual under their seventh-year coach.

Under Pietramala, Hopkins is 25-6 in one-goal decisions, 11-2 with a seven-game winning streak in overtime and has come from behind in 11 of its past 12 one-goal wins.

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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