Nov. 15, 2009
FAIRFIELD, Conn. - With the end of double overtime approaching and penalty kicks looming, freshman Matt Tyrie picked a perfect time to score the first goal of his collegiate career.
With 23.8 seconds left in the match, Tyrie ripped a shot into the top left corner, lifting the Greyhounds to a 1-0 victory against Niagara in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship Game.
The win puts Loyola (11-7-3 overall) in the NCAA College Cup for the third consecutive season, the first time in program history the Greyhounds have accomplished that feat. The MAAC Championship is the 12th in Loyola history.
"This team has really shown a lot of heart after a bumpy beginning of the season," Head Coach Mark Mettrick said. "They turned it around with an excellent win (Friday) against Fairfield and a great performance today. This is great for our program to go to the national tournament three years in arrow. It is not easy to do, and it is a remarkable accomplishment."
As time wound down in overtime, Phil Bannister picked up a loose ball and saw Tyrie on a slashing run toward the top of the 18-yard box. Bannister laid the ball in to Tyrie at the top of the box, and Tyrie took one touch to get pas his Purple Eagles' defender.
Tyrie struck a hard shot from about 16 yards out that went past Niagara's sprawling goalkeeper, John Fiutowski, and into the top right corner of the net.
"We had a lot of possession in the game, but Niagara is very dangerous on their set plays and on their counter attacking," Mettrick said. "We just needed a bit of quality. Niagara is one of those teams that bends and doesn't break. We were trying to be patient and spread them out a bit."
After Greyhounds' goalkeeper Kyle Wittman saved a shot by Niagara's Michael Cunningham 3:41 into the second overtime, Loyola controlled the offensive tempo for the rest of the match.
Loyola earned a corner kick in the 109th minute that Kevin Curran sent into the box. Eddie Dines put a strong header on it, but Fiutowski made one of his five saves to thwart the attack with 51 seconds remaining.
Dines almost provided the game-winner in the first overtime, but Fiutowski made a full-extension save to stop Dines' hard shot in the 97th minute.
Wittman made four saves in goal for the Greyhounds, recording his fourth-straight clean sheet.
The Greyhounds' defense, led by MAAC Championships Most Valuable Player Tennant McVea, did not allow a goal in the conference tournament and yielded just 12 Purple Eagles' shots in the title match.
Loyola will learn its destination for the NCAA College Cup on Monday, November 16, during the NCAA Selection Show on ESPNNews. The selections will be announced during the 5:30-6:00 p.m. segment of ESPNNews.
"We have grown a lot (this season), and to win the championship this year means a lot," Mettrick said. "Last year, we were unbeaten in the regular-season and lost in the (MAAC) Championship Final. To return this year and win in the final, I give a lot of credit to the players, and I am very proud of them."
The Greyhounds have hosted NCAA action each of the last two years at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. Loyola took on Liberty in the 2007 NCAA College Cup First Round and UNC Greensboro in the 2008 Second Round, both at home.