No. 3 Loyola Pulls Away to Win ECAC over No. 16 Fairfield

DENVER – Loyola used an 8-1 run that spanned three quarters to take control of the ECAC championship game, and the third-ranked Greyhounds defeated No. 16 Fairfield, 14-7, to claim the league crown at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

The Greyhounds set a school record in the process, winning their 14th game of the season. They will enter the NCAA Championships with a 14-1 record.

“I have a special group of young men who come to play everyday,” Head Coach Charley Toomey said. “Today, I thought they were relentless on the ground balls, and I thought they played so hard on both the offensive and defensive ends. Their will won us this game.”

Fairfield (12-4 overall) pulled within a goal when Sam Snow scored with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but Loyola got a once-in-a-lifetime goal from defender Reid Acton.

Loyola goalkeeper Jack Runkel made a save on a Fairfield shot, and he passed the ball to Acton. Acton threw the ball nearly 75 yards, and it went over the stick of Fairfield goalkeeper Charlie Cipriano to make the score 5-3 with one second to go in the first quarter.

Justin Ward and Mike Sawyer scored in the second quarter, and Loyola only allowed one Fairfield goal to lead 7-4 at the half. The Greyhounds then scored five in a row to start the second half, outscoring Fairfield 4-0 in the third quarter and going up 12-4 when Chris Layne scored with 13:50 left in regulation.

Sawyer led all players with three goals, his 12th hat trick of the season, and Ward and Layne each had two goals. Ward also added three assists. Ten players scored for the team in all.

Loyola long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player. He had a goal and assist, as well as seven ground balls in the title game and finished the Championships with three goals, two assists and 15 ground balls.

“Scott Ratliff gets us going between the lines, him and his running mates,” Toomey said. “They were not going to be denied today.”

Ratliff added, “It's a great feeling (to win the tournament). It is really the first goal that we have accomplished that we set out to do at the beginning of the season. You hope to win every game, but in terms of goal, it's win the conference, and we knocked the first goal out.”

He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Sawyer, Ward and defenders Dylan Grimm and Joe Fletcher.

Ratliff got the scoring under way when a Fairfield clear went bad, and Ward picked up the ground ball. He raced back into the box and passed it to a crashing Ratliff who scored three minutes into the game.

Fairfield evened the score quickly when John Snellman had his shot blocked only to pick up the ground ball and score on the rebound at 10:23.

Loyola jumped right back in front as J.P. Dalton pushed the faceoff in front to himself, picked up the ground ball and scored eight seconds later.

Eric Warden tied the game for Fairfield at 3:53, but the Stags would keep it tied for only nine seconds.

The Greyhounds got possession on a false start by Fairfield on the faceoff, and Davis Butts picked up the ball, drove down the middle and threw a pass to Sawyer on the left side. Sawyer ripped a goal from 10 yards out to give Loyola a lead it would hold for the rest of the game.

Ward put the Greyhounds up two with 2:20 left in the first quarter catching a Layne pass after the midfielder used a hard dodge down the left side and found Ward on the crease. Snow would make it 4-3, but Acton would put Loyola back up two.

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