Men's Soccer Moves Up To No. 12 In National Poll

Oct. 7, 2008

Click here to read the ESPN Soccernet story featuring the Greyhounds.

Niagara/Canisius Game Notes

Baltimore, Md. - The Loyola men's soccer team was bumped up to No. 12 in the NSCAA/adidas Coaches Poll on Tuesday afternoon, up four spots from its 16th ranking last week. The Greyhounds open up conference play this weekend with a road trip to Western New York to take on Niagara on Friday and Canisius on Sunday.

Undefeated through their non-conference slate, the current Greyhounds team remains the only unbeaten team in the MAAC with an 8-0-1 record. They rank 14th in the latest College Soccer News National Poll.

Loyola fared well last year in conference play, winning both the regular-season and league titles. The Greyhounds went 8-1 in the league last season, with all eight victories coming via shutout. The team has won six of the past eight MAAC regular-season titles, and claimed three league tournament titles in that span.

A very formidable Niagara team could serve as a rude host. The Purple Eagles are 6-2-2 and rank third in the NSCAA/adidas North Atlantic Rankings, a poll which Loyola has topped since the start of the season. Niagara is on the heels of 1-0-1 week, claiming a 3-2 win over Robert Morris and a 1-1 draw against Buffalo. Senior striker Matthew Durand spearheads their offense. He scored a pair of goals in their last two games, and currently leads the conference with 21 points and eight goals while ranking second with five assists.

The Purple Eagles began the season 3-1 after sweeping through the Coastal Carolina Invitational, then earning a split in their own tournament, the Niagara Falls Classic. After drawing 3-3 on the road against Cleveland State, Niagara collected two home wins, 1-0 over Duquesne, and 2-1 over Bucknell. Its only other loss of the season came on the road at St. Bonaventure, falling 2-0.

Canisius, meanwhile, stands 4-6-1 but are fresh off a 2-0 week. The Griffs' took care of Duquesne, 5-3, and spelled Western Michigan in overtime, 2-1. Junior Alan McGreal -- the current Co-Offensive Conference Player of the Week along with Loyola's Jamie Darvill -- contributed an impressive seven points in the Griff's two wins.

The Griffs' began the season 0-2 after falling at Syracuse, 3-0, and at home to Bucknell, 5-4. The team responded though with two wins in the Buffalo Bulls Classic, taking down Detroit, 3-1, and Wright State, 5-1. Canisius then hit a rough patch, losing four out of its next five games to Quinnipiac, Hartford, Buffalo and Robert Morris before righting the ship with the two wins this past week.

As the only undefeated team in the conference, Loyola can give thanks in large part to its defense. The Greyhounds lead the MAAC with six shutouts and a 0.67 goals-against average, good for 20th in the nation.

The Loyola offense is posting 1.89 goals a game, which stands fourth in the conference and 37th in the country. Darvill's 17 total points - six goals and five assists - leads the team and ranks third in the league. He scored six points in two wins last week, assisting on Eddie Dines' goal in the 1-nil victory over Princeton, and then followed that effort by scoring two goals and notching an assist in the wild win over the Bobcats.

Sophomore striker Phil Bannister also has been a key component to the Greyhounds' offensive success. He has netted four goals and two assists in seven games played, and his 1.43 points-a-game average ranks 49th in the country.

Friday's contest vs. Niagara is scheduled for 7 p.m. and Sunday's matchup vs. Canisius will take place at 1 p.m.