Philadelphia, PA - For their last home game of the season, the Pennsylvania Quakers finally came away with the type of win that had eluded them these season. When a team rides into their last home game with a 1-10 record, it clearly hasn't been the best of seasons. What makes it worse is how that record has come about. 5 losses to ranked teams by one goal. It's been one of those seasons where a team was just on the cusp, but for some reason didn't pull it out. That's why Pat Rogers' goal with 51 seconds left on the clock came as a huge sigh of relief for the Quakers. For Loyola, it officially eliminates them from playoff contention as even if they beat Hobart and Hopkins in their final two games - they will have a losing record.
Loyola came out of the blocks fired up, right from the opening faceoff, Paul Richards fed Matt Monfett with just 12 seconds off the clock to get the scoring started. For Penn, a team whose offense is normally very patient and time consuming, they responded well. At 12:23, senior captain Zandy Reich notched the Quakers' first goal. :52 later, DJ Andrzejewski gave Penn its first lead of the day. Then 46 seconds later, Andrzejewski found David Cornbooks, as the sophomore gave Penn an early two-goal lead.
The pace would slow with both teams trading possessions. At the 5:29 mark, Penn junior attackman James Riordan fed Zandy Reich, who finished it for his 2nd goal of the day stretching their lead to 3. For Greg Leonard, it was a game basically back in his hometown, as he hails from the Philadelphia suburbs, and he stepped up for the greyhounds. His first goal of the game came with 3:40 left in the first and kept Loyola alive. Many coaches would be quick to point out one of their pet peeves as a goal scored in the last few seconds of a quarter. Penn's Zandy Reich inverted back to X with the clock winding down on the first quarter. He dodged and redodged until it appeared he had a step on his man top-side going to his strong hand. As he pushed above the goal-line, the ball popped out, hard to tell if it were because of a check or if he just dropped it. Luckily for Penn, James Riordan snagged it and put a quick stick past Loyola goalie Michael Fretwell with just :04 left in the quarter.
The 2nd quarter was much more of a defensive battle. Both teams went back and forth. Fretwell had a nice quarter allowing no goals on 10 shots and making 5 saves. Denis Cole and the Penn defense also played tough giving up only one even-strength goal and one man-down. The man-up goal for Loyola was textbook, as they moved the ball quickly and efficiently. The ball banged from up-top to down-low to the goal-line, across the back of the crease to John Halip. Halip fed a cutting Leonard who finished the play for his 2nd goal. The other goal came with 7:22 left in the half as Dan Bauers cut the lead to one.
Heading into the half, Penn held a familar slim one-goal advantage. The third would prove to be more exciting offensively. Penn's senior 2nd line middie, a converted attackman, Greg Voight inverted. When Voight dodged, his shortstick defender fell, leaving him one-on-one with the goalie and giving Penn a two goal lead. Not to be outdone, Loyola, who favors a more high speed style of play, would even the game. Matt Monfett drove hard into the middle of the field. His defender kept him underneath as he should, but Monfett was able to push up just enough to get a shot off before landing in the crease. It did appear he was in the crease before the shot, but the goal stood and Loyola was now down only one. Just over a minute later, another local Philly product, longstick David Moore, pushed a fastbreak. He took the ball himself between the midfield lines and kept it beating Cole to even the game with 7:13 to play in the third.
As the sky opened up and dropped its contents on Franklin Field in a terrible downpour, neither team refused to back down. Andrejewski gave Penn the lead back with 3:57 left in the quarter, and Greg Leonard tied it back up with 2:34. The game went into the 4th, 7-7.
While it had threatened to rain for much of the game, it really only lasted for about 10-12 minutes. It came down hard enough that both teams struggled to keep their footing and an offensive possession. It was enough to neutralize the transition aspect and ruin my notes for the game. The 4th quarter eventually saw the rain stop, but before it did, Luke Dixson gave Penn the lead once again at 7:36. Jordan Rabidou would sneak another goal in for Loyola with just 4:00 left on the clock. For the next three minutes, both teams got decent looks at the net.
It seemed like the crowd and the Penn sidelines were just waiting to breathe. They had been this close so many times this season. Finally with just :51 remaining on the clock, Pat Rogers put Penn up for good.
Penn won the ensuing face-off and got possession, but as it always seems to work out in one-goal late game situations, Loyola got the ball back on some call that I couldn't make out. With less than 40 seconds to play, Loyola fought hard to get looks at the net. Matt Monfett got a decent look at the net on a jump shot, but his shot went wide right. On the inbounds with just 13 ticks left, Loyola worked it but couldn't get a shot off and the Penn bench was finally able to celebrate being on the right side of these one goal games.
It marks the 2nd straight year, Penn has topped Loyola in a close game. It marks Penn's last true home game of the season, as they do Maryland at Lincolin Financial Field in 2 weeks, but that is hardly their homefield. On their last day on the Franklin Field turf, seniors Zandy Reich (2,1) and Greg Voight (1,0) both played integral roles in the lopsided time of possession. For Loyola, Michael Fretwell contributed nicely with 12 saves, while Greg Leonard's hat trick sparked them offensively. In the end, Alan Eberstein's 13-of-20 face-offs, along with a 34-19 groundball advantage, proved vital in surviving another one-goal game. For Loyola and their offense, it just seemed that they couldn't really find a rhythm, which was made worse by hardly seeing the ball. They looked good in transition and very formidable when they were patient, unfortunately they didn't quite get it done on Saturday.
For Loyola, the loss also guarantees they won't be playing in the post-season as it insures a 2nd straight losing season. Had they won, they would have had an outside shot at the playoffs, especially if they could have pulled off an upset against Hopkins and/or Hobart in their remaining games. All of that now doesn't matter, as a win over Hopkins would give them motivation for next year and hurt Hopkins' seeding (maybe), but with a losing record there is no post-season. Penn looks to use this win as motivation for a team, which was so close year so many times this year. They take on the powerful Terps, but look for it to be a close game as Penn has a penchant for those. Also their slow-down style gives them a shot at winning most games if they play it well, unfortunately, it also means they have a shot at losing most games. The game had the feeling that both of these programs were only a player or two from losing seasons to being in the playoffs.
|David Andrzejewski||(2, 1)|
|Zandy Reich||(2, 1)|
|James Riordan||(1, 1)|
|Greg Voigt||(1, 0)|
|Patrick Rogers||(1, 0)|
|Luke Dixson||(1, 0)|
|David Cornbrooks||(1, 0)|
|Denis Cole||8 (0.500)|