Feb. 10, 2009
Game Overview: Loyola kicks off its 2009 campaign on Saturday when it travels to Powder Springs, Ga., just north of Atlanta, for a 1 p.m. non-conference tilt against Notre Dame at McEachern High School. Entering the season the Greyhounds, the defending ECAC Champions, will be looking to make their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1999-2001 seasons.
The Series: Loyola is 13-4 all-time in its series history with the Irish. In last year's season opener, then-tenth ranked Notre Dame defeated Loyola 7-6 at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field in Baltimore, Md. Notre Dame's Alex Wharton broke a 6-6 tie with his game-winner with 3:33 remaining. Seven different players found the net for the Irish. For Loyola, attackman Shane Koppens recorded one goal and three assists, while midfielder Jake Willcox scored twice and added an assist.
Greyhounds in Series Openers: Loyola has lost its last four season openers dating back to the 2005 season when it fell to Towson, 7-5. Before that loss, the Greyhounds had won 21 straight on opening day from 1984-2004. Loyola is hoping to avoid losing to Notre Dame in the season opener for the third straight year. The Irish topped the Greyhounds in South Bend, Ind., 9-7, to commence the 2007 season.
The Coaches: Loyola alum Charley Toomey '90 enters his fourth season as head coach of his alma mater's lacrosse program, boasting a 20-19 (.512) career record. He has assembled an impressive 16-5 ECAC record during that span. Notre Dame is led by Head Coach Kevin Corrigan, Virginia '88, who has a 181-95 (.656) record over 20 seasons at the helm of the Fighting Irish.
Loyola-Notre Dame In The Polls: The Greyhounds are ranked 17th in both the USILA preseason poll as voted on by Division-I coaches, and in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media poll. The Irish are tied with Princeton for ninth in the USILA poll and tied with UMBC for tenth in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media poll.
Koppens Must Sit: Loyola will play Saturday's game without its top attackman. Shane Koppens, who was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA in the offseason, will miss the first two games of the season as ruled in the decision. Koppens, a 2008 USILA All-American Honorable Mention selection, led Loyola last season with 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists). He is currently eighth on Loyola's all-time assist list with 61.
Ricci Tabbed Preseason All-American: Loyola long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci was named a preseason First Team All-American in mid-December in Inside Lacrosse's Face-Off Yearbook, while Koppens garnered honorable mention honors. Ricci picked up 84 groundballs last season, which was fifth most in program history for a single season. Ricci also led his team with 41 caused turnovers and picked up at least five groundballs on 10 different occasions.
Koppens, Ricci Named To ECAC Team: Both Koppens and Ricci were two of the 11 players named to the preseason All-ECAC Team. Koppens led the league last season with 45 points and was named the ECAC Offensive Player of the Year. Ricci was also named a First Team All-ECAC selection in 2008 after leading the Greyhounds to their first-ever ECAC title since joining the league in 2005.
Greyhounds Picked Second In ECAC: A vote by league coaches picked defending-champs Loyola to finish second in the ECAC for the 2009 season. The Greyhounds received three first-place votes from the league's eight coaches. Georgetown, ranked seventh in the preseason national USILA poll, was picked to finish first.
2008 Loyola Season Recap: Loyola earned its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the ECAC with a 6-1 record and earning the league's automatic postseason berth. The Greyhounds went 7-7 last season and fell at top-seeded Duke, 12-7, in the first round of the tournament in Durham, N.C.
Plenty of Scorers Returning: Loyola brings back eight starters from last year's team and 35 letterwinners. Included are the top four scorers from a year ago: Koppens (19 G, 25 A), junior Cooper MacDonnell (22 G, 5 A), sophomore Matt Langan (11 G, 7 A) and junior Collin Finnerty (16 G, 1 A).
Don't Forget The 'D: In 2008, the Greyhounds made defense their trademark, ranking 17th nationally in goals-against-average, while limiting ECAC opponents to a league-low 5.57 goals-a-game. Loyola welcomes back senior Eric Kohl, juniors Steve Layne and Steve Dircks, along with Graham, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but was a standout defenseman for Loyola two seasons ago.
New Faces At Face-Off: Loyola will miss the presence of Tim McDermott to graduation at the X. McDermott won 109-of-186 (.586) last season for the Greyhounds. Stepping in to fill the void will be senior Michael Atkinson (43-46, .483 in 2008) and John Schiavone (11-7, .611). Junior Michael Haight will also contend for a spot in the rotation.
Good To Go In Goal: Sophomore Jake Hagelin had one of the more impressive freshman seasons in the country last year, playing in all but 25 minutes the entire year and setting a new single-season ECAC record with a 5.52 GAA in conference play. The team also welcomes back senior Alex Peaty, who helped Loyola to the 2007 NCAA Tournament as the team's full-time goalie.