Loyola's reach exceeds grasp in loss to Albany

Great Danes too strong in tourney opener

Albany 19 Loyola 10

May 14, 2007|By Tony Podlaski | Tony Podlaski,Special to The Sun

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Over the past two years, coach Charley Toomey and his Loyola men's lacrosse team have turned a downward-spiraling program back into a respectable one.

After missing last year's NCAA tournament following an overtime loss to John Hopkins, the Greyhounds gained national respect earlier this season by defeating nationally ranked Duke and Syracuse. Despite losing to Hopkins again in its regular-season finale, Loyola finally earned its first NCAA bid in five years.

But Loyola's run for anything more in the tournament ended yesterday when the Greyhounds could not hold off the University at Albany's quick-setting and quick-firing offense - led by Merrick Thompson's five goals - as it absorbed a 19-10 loss in the first round in front of 2,953 at John Fallon Field.

Many expected the game to be a high-scoring, goal-for-goal contest highlighting the shooting of Albany's Frank Resetarits and Thomson, and Loyola's Dan Bauer and Shane Koppens, who returned as a player to the Capital Region after graduating from Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, about 15 miles north of Albany.

But the Greyhounds (7-6) fell behind quickly.

Albany (15-2), seeded fifth in the tournament, had a 4-0 lead before Andrew Spack scored the first Loyola goal off an assist from Paul Richards with six minutes left in the opening period.

The Great Danes responded with a goal from Eddie Graham 47 seconds later. The Greyhounds possessed the ball for the last three minutes of the first quarter, but couldn't capitalize.

"You have to give them credit. Albany had an answer for everything and made all of the plays," Toomey said. "They played solid defense. They were so dangerous on the inside."

Loyola regrouped on offense early in the second quarter as Bauer scored off an assist from Steven Hess during a man-up opportunity to cut Albany's lead to 5-2 with 12:50 left in the half. But the Great Danes used fast breaks and quick ball movement in an offensive barrage that produced a 10-3 halftime lead.

Trailing 13-4 with nearly two minutes left in the third quarter, Loyola moved the ball quickly to score three times within 46 seconds - getting goals from Joe Landry, Greg Leonard and Koppens. But that would be as close as the Greyhounds would get to the Great Danes.

"We had a few looks at the goal early in the game, but it didn't happen," said Koppens. "If we did that, then it's a different game. We played our game, but we didn't execute it well. We moved the ball not as well as we usually do."

The only advantage the Greyhounds had in the game was in faceoffs. Dan Kallaugher won 27 of 33.

"He did a terrific job for us today," Toomey said. "That was the most dominant performance I have seen from a faceoff player in a long time."

Albany will play fourth-seeded Cornell (13-0) in Saturday's quarterfinals at Princeton.

For Loyola, Toomey was both grateful and hopeful.

"I thank our [13] seniors who have put us back on the map and put this program where it needs to be, and that's in the playoffs," he said. "It's a class program and it starts with these players. I'm so fortunate to be where I am and to be working with these players. We haven't had this experience in a long time. I think these players know what's at the end of the rainbow."

Loyola 1 2 3 4 - 10

Albany 5 5 3 6 - 19

Goals: L-Koppens 2, Richards 2, Spack 2, Kennedy, Bauers, Landry, Leonard; A-Thomson 5, Levine 2, Resetarits 2, Small 2, Wolf 2, Dale 2, Ammann 2, Green, Ammann. Assists: L-Kennedy 2, Bauers, Hess, Rabidou, Kallaugher; A-Thomson, Levine 3, Resetarits 2, Small, Wolf, Alpizar 2, Queener. Saves: L-Peaty 7, Locke 7; A-Queener 8, McKeon, Babnik.

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