Men's Soccer Begins Conference Play With A Pair Of MAAC Contests This Weekend

Oct. 6, 2005

Baltimore, Md. - Now that the non-conference matches have been exhausted for 2005, the Loyola men's soccer team can solely focus on MAAC competition, where it has dominated over the years. Having won the last six regular season MAAC titles, the Greyhounds open league play with Niagara and Canisius this weekend.

The `Hounds went 9-0 in the MAAC last season and have a combined all-time record of 28-2-0 against Niagara and Canisius. With 2004 All-MAAC performers Gabriel Ortega, Rade Kokovic, Ray Hassett and Frank Spanos back this season (two-time All-MAAC honoree Omar Alfonso is still out with injury), the Greyhounds are again favorites to win the conference, which is much improved according to Mettrick.

Niagara will be the first test. The Purple Eagles are 4-4-1 entering MAAC play, their best record after nine games since the 1988 season. Last year the Greyhounds escaped with a 2-1 victory at Niagara to extend their win streak against the Purple Eagles to eight games. Vinnie Piscopo, who has two goals for the `Hounds this season, scored the game-winner in the 61st minute of play.

Unlike Niagara, which is off to a great start this season, the Canisius Golden Griffins have struggled. Canisius is 0-6-2 overall, and like Niagara, has lost its last eight games against Loyola. The Griffs played the Greyhounds tough last season in Buffalo, taking Loyola to overtime before senior Chase Franklin struck with the game-winner in the 91st minute.

Loyola, which enters this weekend's matches with a 2-6-1 overall record, is coming off a 3-2 overtime win over American. Junior co-captain Danny Wheelan scored the game-winner in the second overtime while Kokovic picked up two assists in the victory.

Friday's match against Niagara begins at 3 p.m. while Sunday's match with Canisius is at 1 p.m. Both contests are scheduled for Alumnae Field; however, Friday's match with Niagara may be moved to Diane Geppi-Aikens Field because of heavy rain in the forecast.