June 29, 2009
BALTIMORE - After spending all but one week of the 2008 season in the Top 25 of the national polls, the Loyola College men's soccer team returned to familiar territory on Monday, landing at No. 15 in the College Soccer News 2009 preseason rankings.
Heading into the upcoming season, the Greyhounds return the core of the 2008 group which went 18-2-1 and made its second straight second-round appearance in the NCAA College Cup.
Forwards Jamie Darvill (14 goals, 11 assists) and Phil Bannister (13 goals, 8 assists) come back to bolster an explosive offense which ranked second nationally last year with 2.33 goals-per-game. Meanwhile, First Team NSCAA All-American Tennant McVea captains a defensive unit which posted 12 shutouts on the season, good for ninth in the nation in shutout percentage (0.57).
A total of five players from last year's team-McVea, Darvill, Bannister and D.C. United draftee Milos Kocic- were named to the NSCAA All North Atlantic Regional team last season, with midfielder Mike Deasel tabbed to the second team. A league-high nine Greyhounds were selected to the All-MAAC team.
Assembling a perfect 17-0-1 slate in regular season play for the program's first undefeated season since 1986, Loyola climbed as high as No. 6 in the national rankings in 2008 and held a spot in the Top Ten for six consecutive weeks.
Loyola opens up an arduous 2009 campaign when it hosts Big East member Villanova in the season opener on Tuesday, September 1 at 5 p.m. That Friday, the Greyhounds will face local foe Mount St. Mary's at 2 p.m at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field.
Bulking up its out-of-conference slate, Loyola will also play Big East member Syracuse, local rivals Towson, UMBC and Navy, and North Atlantic heavyweights Monmouth and Quinnipiac. The Greyhounds begin defense of their MAAC regular season title against Rider on October 10 in the conference opener.