Oct. 21, 2008
Baltimore, Md. - The Loyola soccer team climbed a spot to No. 7 in the NSCAA/adidas poll Tuesday, its highest ranking in school history this late in the season. The Greyhounds will take their play on the road this weekend as they visit Iona on Friday at 3:30 and Fairfield on Sunday at 1 o'clock p.m.
Loyola (12-0-1,4-0 MAAC) remains just one of three unbeatens in Division-I, and its current 21-game unbeaten streak is best in the land. Maybe more impressive is that their unbeaten stretch has now extended over a full calendar year. It was October 21, 2007 Mark Mettrick's team was last handed a loss, a 4-nil defeat at Saint Peters.
Since then, the squad has gone 19-0-2 in its last 21 matches. It has done so behind an explosive offense and a stingy defense. The Greyhounds, who ran off a perfect 2-0 homestand over the weekend, are ranked both seventh nationally in scoring offense (2.31 goals a game) and in scoring defense (0.62 goals allowed). Both marks lead the MAAC. The last line of Loyola's defense, junior keeper Milos Kocic, ranks sixth nationally in save percentage (.882). Only top-ranked Wake Forest, at 13-0-1 (0.964), has a better win-lost tie percentage than Loyola (0.962).
In Friday's contest, the team successfully defended home turf in a 4-1 victory over Marist. Sophomore striker Phil Bannister paved the way with five points, scoring two goals and adding an assist. He broke a 1-1 tie with a goal in the 60th minute off a cross, and put the contest away with a late strike from outside the box. He was named MAAC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
Two days later, Loyola spelled a very competitive Siena team, 3-1, behind two gorgeous putaways from sophomore Daniel Ankrah. Looking to push the pace of the play early on, the Greyhounds and junior defender Tennant McVea got on the board in the third minute on a McVea rip from outside the box.
Loyola had a number of productive looks the rest of the half, and doubled its lead in the 23rd minute. Standing in front of Siena's sweepers, Bannister received a ball in traffic and played a gorgeous back-heeled flick to a streaking Ankrah on the left side of the pitch. The sophomore controlled the ball and beat the keeper with a blast to the left-side of the frame. Ankrah tallied another goal in the second to give the `Hounds a perfect 4-0 mark in conference play.
Loyola will meet a pair of very formidable opponents this weekend in Iona (8-3-1, 2-1-0 MAAC) and Fairfield (5-5-0, 2-1-0). Iona is ranked sixth in NSCAA's North Atlantic Rankings, while Fairfield received votes. Loyola is currently tops in that poll.
Both the Gaels and the Stags faced the same two opponents over the weekend. Iona blanked Manhattan, 3-nil, on Friday and was defeated by Saint Peter's, 3-1, on Sunday. On the other side, the Stags posted two, 1-nil victories over Saint Peter's and Manhattan.
In continuing their similarities, both of these opponents feature very solid defensive units. Iona is second in the conference in goals-against average (0.97 a game), while Fairfield is third in the category (1.20).
Iona's Giovanni Destavio is tied with Loyola's Bannister and Jamie Darvill for second in the league in goals scored. The trio has notched eight goals each, respectively.
Last season, Loyola beat Fairfield, 2-nil, and Iona, 1-nil.
Loyola faces Iona at 3:30 p.m. Friday and battles Fairfield at 1 p.m. Sunday.