Sept. 30, 2008
Baltimore, Md. - After not having played a match since its 1-0 win at Mount St. Mary's on September 20 following last Saturday's postponement at UMBC, the 16th-ranked Loyola men's soccer gets back into action Wednesday afternoon on Diane Geppi-Aikens Field when it hosts Princeton University at 5 o'clock.
In addition to climbing one notch to No. 16 in the national ranking in the NSCAA/adidas poll, the Greyhounds (6-0-1) maintained the top spot in the NSCAA/adidas North Atlantic regional poll and No. 19 in the College Soccer News Top 30 poll.
Hailing from the Ivy League, the Tigers (2-5) have played a highly competitive schedule thus far as it prepares for conference play later in October. The Ivy League is the eighth-ranked conference - Loyola's MAAC is 12 - and boasts three nationally ranked teams - Brown, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania - while the Greyhounds are the only MAAC team to make that claim.
Last year, three Ivies made the NCAA College Cup and all three received home contests. League Champion Brown was selected as the No. 6 overall seed and granted a first-round bye while Dartmouth and Harvard each were selected as at-large selections. In addition to Loyola's first-round home match, MAAC foe Saint Peter's was selected as an at-large choice, but was sent on the road for its only contest.
The Tigers have already beaten Seton Hall of the BIG EAST and Sunday topped in-state rival Fairleigh Dickinson on the road, 2-1. Princeton also traveled to the Chicago area to play nationally ranked Northwestern and Illinois-Chicago during a September weekend. Sophomores Brandon Busch and Teddy Schneider each have a pair of goals to lead the Tigers and junior midfielder Devin Muntz tops the squad with three assists.
Loyola had its match Saturday at UMBC postponed indefinitely when play was stopped nearly 15 minutes into the contest following a torrential rainstorm that left the UMBC Stadium turf unplayable. The Greyhounds bring into the contest a 14-match home unbeaten stretch and Loyola has not allowed a goal at home in the last 11 of those. The Greyhounds also have not lost a match in 15 straight contests and are unbeaten in 21 of its last 22 efforts.
The strength of those lofty streaks has been the Loyola defense with co-captains Josh Taylor and Tennant McVea running the team in front of goalkeeper Milos Kocic. Kocic, who had an NCAA-record run of 974:20 without being scored upon snapped earlier this season, has five shutouts in seven matches thus far and ranks fourth in the NCAA in save percentage (.938) and sixth in goals-against average (0.277). The play of the entire defense has vaulted Loyola to among the top six ranked teams statistically in four different categories - winning percentage (3, .929), save percentage (3, .939), team goals-against average (5, 0.28) and shutout percentage (6, 0.71).
While the defense has been the cornerstone of the seven-match unbeaten streak to open the season, Loyola also has scored 11 goals in its seven contests led by junior forward Jamie Darvill's 11 points on team-highs with four goals and three assists. He also has two game-winners.
Princeton leads the all-time series between the two teams, winning four while Loyola has captured three of the contests and four matches have ended in ties. The last eight contests have resulted in a virtual deadlock with two wins for each side and four ties. The Greyhounds opened 2007 with a 2-1 win at Princeton after the Tigers left Baltimore with a 3-1 victory in 2006 in their last visit to Geppi-Aikens Field.