February 13, 2016
Loyola defenseman Jason Crane clears the ball Saturday during the Greyhounds' win at Virginia. (Kelsey Grant)
Loyola defenseman Jason Crane clears the ball Saturday during the Greyhounds' win at Virginia. (Kelsey Grant)

Loyola Carves Up Virginia, Exposes Cavs' Shooting Woes

by Shane Mettlen | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Just seconds into the game, Zed Williams' first shot for Virginia ricocheted off the post to the left of Loyola goalie Grant Limone and out of bounds to the Greyhounds. It was like that the rest of the day for the Cavaliers.

With both teams battling temperatures in the low 20s, ninth-ranked Virginia won almost every statistical battle except the one that mattered, as the efficient Loyola offense carried the 13th-ranked Greyhounds to a 11-4 season-opening victory.

For Loyola, it looked like a sign that missing the NCAA tournament a year ago was merely a blip on the radar, while Virginia failed to regain any momentum as a program after going winless in ACC play in 2015 and falling 19-7 to Johns Hopkins in the postseason.

"Zed really nailed one off the post to start the game there, and I thought it was going to be a long day," Limone said. "But I had a few good saves, a few lucky saves and we were able to keep it going on defense. They had some tough luck, but for us it was a great start to the season and showed we are poised to have better season and build off what we've been working on since the fall."

Limone, a sophomore, played the entire game in goal and finished with 14 saves.

The Greyhounds raced out of the gate and exposed many of the same problems goalie Matt Barrett and the Virginia defense experienced when it last took the field in the blowout loss to Johns Hopkins in May. Four different Loyola players scored goals in the opening period, and though Barrett only saw eight shots in the first quarter, the Cavaliers still trailed 4-0 after 15 minutes.

The Virginia offense was aggressive from the start and kept Limone on his toes. But a combination of imprecise accuracy by the Cavaliers and some nice saves by Limone led to Virginia shooting 25 times before finally finding the back of the net on a rocket from midfielder Greg Coholan with 4:23 left in the first half.

Virginia finished with seven more shots and six more ground balls than the Greyhounds and also won 10 of 17 faceoffs, but in the end it was Loyola that was able to consistently points on the scoreboard.

Tyler Albrect had three goals for the Greyhounds, while Brian Sherlock and Pat Spencer each had two goals and two assists.

Coholan, Ryan Lukacovic, Ryan Conrad and AJ Fish each had a goal for the Cavaliers. Barrett had 10 saves and allowed all 11 Loyola goals.

"We weren't quite good enough on defense and they were a little bit better," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "That's an experienced offensive lacrosse team for Loyola. They were able to cash in on their opportunities, and we had a number of good ones that would have made a difference. We did some things for us to feel OK about. But in general, it was not quite up to the performance that we needed today to be the team that was on top of their game."

Afterward, the Cavaliers acknowledged their objective going forward is to simply start hitting shots.

"Eleven goals is pretty good by our defense, but four isn't going to get it done," Fish said. "At some point you have to stop talking about tough luck and just get it in the back of the net."

For Loyola, it could be a victory that sparks a turnaround season.

"Winning at Klockner is always a big deal," Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. "Our guys have been tired of always losing those one-goal games to Virginia."

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