After a cinderella run in 2012, winning the NCAA Division 1 Men’s National Championship, the Loyola Greyhounds were set on making another run to protect their title. Lowing top scorer Eric Lusby made things seem a little gloomy at the start, but the Greyhounds came out to start 2-0 with wins over Delaware and Towson. Next, the Greyhounds schedule had them hosting Maryland in a rematch of the 2012 national championship. Maryland took down the defending champs 12-10 in a hard fought battle.
Loyola would win the next two games against UMBC and Bellarmine before falling to Duke. Head Coach Charley Toomey’s team went on a five game win streak to sit at 9-2. Denver showed up to the Ridley Athletic Complex and gave Toomey’s squad there third loss of the season. Traveling to end the regular season, Loyola took down Hobart and then their other huge rival Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field to finish 11-3.
In the ECAC’s, Toomey and his Greyhounds were ousted in the semi’s by Ohio State. The team was selected to the NCAA Tournament, where they met with Duke once again, and fell in double overtime 12-11.
Graduation makes things interesting every year for teams. Loyola had a lot of returning players from 2012, excluding Eric Lusby, Pat Burns, Dylan Grimm and JP Dalton. They now graduate top contributors Mike Sawyer, Josh Hawkins, Scott Ratliff, Chris Layne, Davis Butts, Sean O’Sullivan, and Reid Acton. Returning patrons from the 2012 championship team are goalie Jack Runkel, defender Joe Fletcher and SSDM Kyle Duffy. It’s always a plus to return players who have experience in big games.
Unfortunately, replacing Sawyer will be the biggest contest. Luckily, they have Justin Ward, the top point getter from 2013 with 27 goals and 36 assists. Sophomore Nikko Pontrello will have big shoes to fill as a returning starter who recorded 35 points. Freshman Zach Herreweyers may be the third attackman heading into 2014, putting up 22 points last season. Blake Burkhart will make his appearances at the face-off X.
The biggest issue for Toomey is the midfield. Graduating five Senior midfielders that have gave the team so much over the past two years is hard to replace. Defensively, Paul Frazier is the other returning pole down low for Toomey. A close d, LSM and SSDM are hard to compensate for. Finding a clearing middie that was as sound as Hawkins and an LSM that was as diverse as Ratliff was, won’t be easy at all.
Overall, finding that team camaraderie and installing a fighting mentality into his payers that was there in 2012 has to be reinstated. He says good luck to his offensive coordinator, Dan Chemotti, who leaves for Richmond, which we will probably see a new look to the Greyhound offense. Loyola will come out fighting this season, with a lot to prove after falling in the ECAC’s and first round of the NCAA Tournament and will do so in a new conference, the Patriot League.