No. 1 Loyola holds off Notre Dame in semifinal

Eric Lusby of the Loyola Greyhounds carries the

Eric Lusby of the Loyola Greyhounds carries the ball against Stephen O'Hara of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (May 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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FOXBORO, Mass. -- After missing all but two games of his senior season in 2011 with a torn ACL, Eric Lusby returned to Loyola (Md.) to work on his masters in business administration. Saturday, he was a master of shot-making.

In a game dominated by defense and goaltending, Lusby scored five goals on eight shots as the No. 1-ranked Greyhounds held off Notre Dame, 7-5, in an NCAA men's lacrosse semifinal at Gillette Stadium. Loyola will play Maryland in Monday's championship game at 1 p.m.

"We know Notre Dame has a great defense," Lusby said of the nation's No. 1-ranked defensive unit (6.0 goals per game). "I was lucky to find myself on the receiving end of some good skip passes to the back side. I could dodge from there."

Lusby's dazzling split-dodge with 3:21 left in the first quarter gave Loyola (17-1) a 2-1 lead. Notre Dame (13-3) never tied it, but despite scoring droughts of 20:21 and 24:46, crept to within 4-3 with 2:04 left before halftime. The Greyhounds' Josh Hawkins bounc-ed one high over the shoulder of All-American goalie John Kemp with 2.2 seconds left to make it 5-3 at the half.

"I don't think it mattered. I think 5-3 was more reflective of the play in the first half," a frank Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. "There were still plays to be made in the second half and we needed to make them. We just weren't patient and selective enough. We didn't play good offense."

Neither did Loyola, with the exception of Lusby. He took a feed from Tewaaraton finalist Mike Sawyer to score 32 seconds into the third quarter and then nailed a shot from the right side with 11:40 left in the third to make it 7-3.

With Loyola going scoreless for the final 26:40, Notre Dame crawled back on goals by Sean Rogers (Holy Trinity) and Westy Hopkins to make it 7-5 with 6:28 left. But then Greyhounds goalie Jack Runkel (career-high 15 saves) shut the door. "After my first save, I got into a rhythm," said Runkel, who had 11 second-half saves.

Said Toomey of his sophomore goalie, "That's as big as he's ever been for us."

Like Lusby, he was masterful.

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