No. 5 Loyola sprints to 14-7 win over No. 6 Duke in men's lacrosse

Duke coach John Danowski tried a number of combinations, including flip-flopping his goalie twice, but the Blue Devils had no solutions for Loyola's offense Sunday night.

Although the host No. 5 Greyhounds (5-1) weren't prolific on offense, they were much faster than the No. 6 Blue Devils (4-2) and cruised to a 14-7 win before an announced crowd of 3,912 at the Ridley Athletic Complex. Duke's problems in goal were exposed again in the game.

Loyola senior attackman Matt Sawyer had six goals, and Greyhounds junior attackman Nikko Pontrello added five. Senior attackman Justin Ward (Old Mill) also had four assists.

Sawyer did most of his damage in the first half, when he had four goals, while Pontrello had three in the second half — including two to open the third quarter as Loyola built a 10-5 lead.

"Whenever we play Duke, it is always a great game," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "I was proud of my guys today. We had a great week of preparation, and I thought we got what we deserved. We were tough in every phase of the game. "I've been here a long time and I don't have a much sweeter victory than that one."

The game avenged Loyola's 12-11 double overtime loss to Duke in the NCAA Division I quarterfinals last year as the Blue Devils went on to win the national championship. Loyola players didn't talk about that loss leading up to Sunday's game, but it was on their minds.

And it showed on the field.

Loyola outshot Duke, 39-31, and the Greyhounds were much tougher than the Blue Devils on defense as they doubled around the goal, occasionally confusing Duke by switching from man-to-man to zone defense.

"I saw a unit that was playing well together," Toomey said. "We were settling into some man, and we started out with a zone in the midfield. We got comfortable in the zone and wanted them to make a few more passes."

Duke led, 4-3, at the end of the first quarter as the Blue Devils outshot the Greyhounds, 9-8. The two teams traded goals in the first six minutes of the quarter, but then Duke attackman Josh Dionne scored off an extra-man situation with 7:41 left to go ahead, 3-2.

Sawyer tied the game nearly a minute later as Loyola converted on its own extra-man opportunity, but Duke attackman Jordan Wolf beat Greyhounds defenseman Joe Fletcher from behind the goal with 2:50 left to put the Blue Devils up at the end of the period.

Loyola took control of the second quarter as Duke went nearly 16 minutes without a goal. Sawyer was unstoppable during the quarter, scoring twice in the first six minutes of the period, and Greyhounds senior attackman Brian Schultz (Walkersville) pushed Loyola's lead to 7-4 by converting on a 20-yard shot while working from right to left in front of the goal.

When Sawyer scored with 2:49 left in the second quarter to give Loyola an 8-4 lead, Danowski inserted Kyle Turri in goal for Luke Aaron.

Duke senior midfielder Christian Walsh closed out the scoring with a long-range, low shot in the right corner with 1:30 remaining in the half. The lead was somewhat surprising because Duke won 10 of 14 faceoffs in the first half.

Pontrello scored the first two goals of the third period, both off one-on-one opportunities close to the goal. Pontrello scored on a man-up advantage with 13:14 left in the third quarter, and he then beat Duke's Brian Dailey from behind the net for another goal with 8:32 remaining.

Duke avoided being shut out in the period when midfielder Deemer Class (Loyola Blakefield) scored on a long-range shot 10 yards inside the restraining line with 4:14 left.

"We are shooting well right now, and that's making things a lot easier for us," Pontrello said. "I was a little bit surprised that we got by them, and I expected them to stop us. But sometimes you have to trust your goalie, and other times, you just got to take what a defense gives you."

Toomey said: "In the huddle we talked about staying disciplined and playing fast, and we did that. Offensively, we handled their pressure, and it allowed us to run by some guys. A key for us the rest of this season is playing fast all the way through the fourth quarter. I thought we did that tonight."

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