July 29, 2009
Edison, N.J - A year after sweeping to the league regular season title, the Loyola College men's soccer team has been selected to win the 2009 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title in a preseason poll as voted on by the league's 10 head coaches. The coaches also tabbed Loyola senior Jamie Darvill as preseason Player of the Year and voted Darvill, Phil Bannister, and Tennant McVea onto the preseason team.
Loyola earned the top spot with 99 points in the poll, while Fairfield, the defending MAAC Tournament champion, finished second with 86 points. Saint Peter's was picked third with 69 points, and Niagara was fourth with 63 points. Iona placed fifth, followed by Siena, Canisius, Marist, Manhattan and Rider.
The Greyhounds, ranked 15th in a preseason poll by College Soccer News, return eight starters from last year's team which went 18-2-1 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA College Cup for the second consecutive season. With a perfect 17-0-1 regular season, the Greyhounds rose as high as No. 6 nationally and finished the season as just one of two schools, along with Wake Forest, to stay perfect heading into postseason play. Loyola went 10-0 in 2008 against conference opponents in the regular season before falling to Fairfield 1-nil in the Tournament Championship.
Darvill, the 2008 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, returns for his senior season to spearhead a potent scoring attack which ranked second nationally in 2008 with 2.33 goals-per-game. The striker led the conference in scoring with 14 goals and 11 assists.
For his efforts, he was named to the third-team Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Year-a variation of an All-American. He also finished eighth nationally in points-per-game (1.86) and tenth with 0.52 assists-per-game.
Joining him on the preseason team is reigning All-American and 2008 MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Tennant McVea. Last season, the center back became the first Loyola player since Zach Thornton in 1993 to be named a NSCAA First Team All-American.
A native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, McVea captained a defense that posted 12 shutouts in 2008, good for ninth in the nation in shutout percentage (0.57) and led the MAAC in goals-against-average (0.66). He also scored a pair of goals.
Bannister, a junior forward from Newcastle, England, scored 13 goals and eight assists playing alongside teammate Darvill in 2008. He led the MAAC in goals-per-game (0.68) and scored five points in a game on three different occasions against MAAC opponents Canisius, Marist and Iona.
He scored a goal and two assists in the 3-nil win over Manhattan in the MAAC Semifinals and scored his team's lone goal against UNC Greensboro in the NCAA College Cup. An Accounting major, he was also named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team last October.
The trio all landed spots on the first team All-NSCAA North Atlantic Regional team and to the All-MAAC first team, as well.
Loyola opens up a challenging 2009 campaign when it hosts Big East member Villanova in the season opener on Tuesday, September 1 at 5 p.m.
Bulking up its out-of-conference slate, Loyola will also play Syracuse, local rivals Towson, UMBC and Navy, and North Atlantic challengers Monmouth and Quinnipiac. The Greyhounds begin defense of their MAAC regular season title against Rider on October 10 in the conference opener here in Baltimore.