Loyola outlasts Syracuse run

Greyhounds hold on for fifth straight, first over Orange since 2001

No. 12 Loyola 11 No. 11 Syracuse 10

April 01, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Reporter

A great afternoon's work by the 12th-ranked Loyola College men's lacrosse team almost was erased during one, final, wild minute yesterday against visiting No. 11 Syracuse.

But in the end, after the Greyhounds had nearly blown a four-goal lead they built by controlling the Orange throughout the fourth quarter, Loyola sophomore goalie Alex Peaty saved the day.

Peaty stepped up to stop a point-blank shot by Syracuse sophomore attackman Kenny Nims as time expired, and Loyola escaped with a huge, 11-10 victory before 3,582 at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field.

Minutes later, Loyola (5-2) was breathing a huge sigh of relief and reveling in one of its biggest victories in recent years.

Besides achieving their first five-game winning streak since 2002, the Greyhounds took a major step toward their first NCAA tournament appearance in six seasons. Three weeks after beating then-No. 1 Duke, Loyola solved Syracuse (3-4) for the first time since 2001 and only the fifth time in 22 tries.

"I knew I would face a shot [at the end] with the way the game was going," said Peaty, whose 12th and final save allowed Loyola to continue a celebration it had begun prematurely on the sideline a minute earlier. "I saw the ball in [Nims'] stick. His hands were high and his stick was high, and I went stick-to-stick with him. I did what I practice every day.

"This means a lot to a lot of people around here - the alumni, the coaches, a lot of people who have played here. We want to get back to where Loyola College deserves to be. We took another step to getting back to that today."

The Greyhounds, who got a team-high four goals from senior attackman Dan Bauers and three more from junior attackman Shane Koppens, broke a 6-6, third-quarter tie by going on a 5-1 run that featured two goals apiece from Bauers and Koppens.

The last goal, an empty-netter by Koppens, made it 11-7 with 1:13 left. At that point, in a game that featured several nasty collisions, the Greyhounds were wearing out the Orange with their one-on-one athleticism, strong transition game, hard rides and aggressive shooting.

But back charged Syracuse, which had scored just two second-half goals and appeared to be fading fast. Senior midfielder Danny Brennan won the next three faceoffs, and in a span of 39 seconds, the Orange scored three times.

Sophomore Dan Hardy started the run with 1:01 left, then followed a goal by midfielder Steven Brooks by firing a difficult, high 12-yarder from the extreme right wing past Peaty with 22 seconds left. Syracuse got the ball back again, drew a pushing foul to go a man up and Hardy fed Nims on the crease from up top, from about 18 yards away.

"I was getting ready for overtime," Bauers said. "If any team in the country can score three goals in the last minute, it's Syracuse. But this shows our drive and determination."

Loyola coach Charley Toomey loved the way the Greyhounds took control but fretted about how they almost let it slip away. And he wasn't too thrilled with the way Loyola started its victory party a bit early.

"I don't think it was a thing of disrespect. I think it was excitement. We haven't been here before," Toomey said. "We need to learn how to win and expect to win. But I think we're awfully close to that."


Syracuse 4 1 1 4 - 10

Loyola 3 2 2 4 - 11

Goals: S-Leveille 4, Hardy 2, Nims, Niewieroski, Brooks, Rommel. L- Bauers 4, Koppens 3, Spack 2, Kennedy, Willcox. Assists: S-Nims 3, Abbott, Hardy, Leveille, Niewieroski, Panarelli; L-Leonard 2, Bauers, Hess, Koppens. Saves: S-Colluccini 12; L- Peaty 12.

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