FOXBOROUGH -- A week after tying his career-high five goals last week in Loyola's 10-9 quarterfinal win over Denver, Eric Lusby hung another nickel up.
This time, though, the game wasn't nearly as much of a nail-biter.
He scored from long-range and point-blank range, making use of his viciously powerful shot but also using crafty moves to beat defenders in Loyola's 7-5 semifinal win over Notre Dame.
Loyola, the tournament's top seed despite starting the season unranked, now awaits the winner of this afternoon's matchup between Duke and Maryland. The Greyhounds reached the national championship game for the first time since 1990 when its current coach Charley Toomey was the team's goalie.
The Greyhounds jumped out to a 4-1 lead early (three of the goals came from Lusby, who pushed his season total to 50), and held on when Notre Dame made a late run.
Notre Dame came in with a reputation for it's suffocating defense (it had held an opponent scoreless for an entire quarter 15 times this season). But the Greyhounds had the Irish gasping for goals.
Goalkeeper Jack Runkel made a career-high 15 saves, the Greyhounds dominated possession in the first half (15 first-half shots) and, after Jim Mallet's goal with 7:31 left in the first quarter, the Irish went more than 26 minutes, 21 seconds without scoring in the first half.
When the Irish scored, they scored in bursts.
They finally cracked the code with 2:10 left in the second quarter when Westy Hopkins came from behind the net, spun through a double team and beat Runkle to make it 4-2.
Just six seconds later, Liam O'Connor gobbled up a faceoff and set up Nicholas Beattie who fired from the outside to close the game to one.
The quick burst seemed like it would give the Irish momentum going into the half, but at the almost last second the Greyhounds killed that. With just seconds left in the half, Josh Hawkins pushed the ball upfield. Instead of calling a timeout, coach Charley Toomey let his junior middy make a play. Hawkins's leaping shot from long range bounced past Kemp and put Loyola up 5-3 going into the break.
In the second half, Notre Dame went 24 minutes, 46 seconds without finding the net, as Loyola pushed the lead out to 7-3. But Sean Rodgers scored to end the drought, Hopkins struck again 50 seconds later, juking his defender and dumping the ball over Runkel's right shoulder.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell