If this game was any indication of things to come in the upcoming college lacrosse season, then lacrosse fans across the country will be in for an exciting season.
The University of Virginia and Loyola of Maryland (2012 NCAA champions) opened the 2014 season in front of 1635 faithful fans at UVA’s frigid Klockner Stadium and treated them to an overtime thriller.
Local schoolboy scoring phenom, James Pannell (Smithtown, NY), scored the game winner 2:16 into the extra period to give the hosts a dramatic 14-13 win.
Pannell’s goal was his fourth goal of the game to lead all scorers, which was played on UVA’s natural grass field in temperatures that dropped below the freezing mark shortly after the first face off.
The loss was a severe blow for Loyola, who staged a dramatic fourth period comeback after spotting Virginia a seemingly insurmountable 12-4 deficit at the end of three. Loyola rallied with 9 unanswered goals in the final period to take a 13-12 lead before UVA scored on a controversial goal as time expired in regulation.
A number of local area natives played a prominent role in the final outcome of the game, including Loyola’s Nikko Pontrello (Marlton, NJ) and Brian Sherlock (Nissequogue,NY).
Pontrello scored a pair of goals for the Greyhounds on a team high of 7 shots in the game. Sherlock, a red shirt freshman, added a goal and 2 assists in the long cause. Senior captain Pat Laconi (Morristown, NJ) saw action at midfield, but did not contribute in the scoring column. In addition to Pannell’s heroics, Virginia received outstanding defensive contributions from captain Scott McWilliams (Mountain Lakes, NJ), Chris LaPierre (Medford, NJ) and Greg Danseglio (Islip Terrace, NY).
McWilliams, who is a preseason All-American pick, was not totally pleased with the Hoos defensive effort, particularly in the final period. “We let them (Loyola) back in the game,” said the senior defender to reporters after the game. “We need to play a little tougher than that.” It was a great start to the 2014 college season.