Oct. 29, 2008
Baltimore, Md. - The unbeaten Loyola men's soccer team will return to Diane-Geppi Aikens Field this weekend for its final home matches of the regular season against a pair of conference foes in Saint Peter's and Manhattan. After posting two road wins in a pair of highly competitive matches, the Greyhounds maintained their No. 7 ranking in Tuesday's NSCAA/adidas rankings. The team also claims the seventh-spot in the College Soccer News National poll.
Loyola finds itself in some very elite company. At 14-0-1(6-0 MAAC), the Greyhounds now stand as only one of two teams in Division-I still unbeaten, with the other being top-ranked Wake Forest. The Greyhounds are also second in the nation only to the Demon Deacons with a 0.967 win-loss-percentage and have the country's fourth-best RPI.
The two victories over the weekend gave the team a national-best 23 game unbeaten streak; Loyola is 21-0-2 in that span. The team stands third in the country in scoring offense (2.4 goals a game), while striker Phil Bannister stands fifth nationally with 2.0 points a contest.
Heading away from Evergreen last weekend, Loyola snatched a pair of notable road wins against two teams currently in the upper-half of the MAAC standings. On Friday, Bannister netted two goals and tallied an assist as the Greyhounds fought back from a 2-1 second-half deficit to score three unanswered goals in the second to claim a 4-2 win over Iona.
A hosting Fairfield team played Loyola even until the 66th minute on Sunday but Glenn Leitch put the match away on a glancing header off a corner kick that found the upper-90. Milos Kocic and the rest of the Loyola `D clasped down the rest of the way, denying some late Fairfield opportunities to claim a 2-1 win over the Stags. The win marked the ninth consecutive for Loyola.
Saint Peter's (7-6-2, 3-2 MAAC) finds itself locked in a four-way tie for third place in league play. The Peacocks are coming off a remarkable season last year in which they went 15-5-1 and claimed an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the conference's history. The team fell to tradition-rich University of Virginia, 3-1, in the first-round of the Championships. One has to go back over a year to find Loyola's lost loss, but it came to this Saint Peter's squad on October 19, 2007, in a 4-nil defeat.
The Peacocks have sandwiched a pair of MAAC wins over Manhattan and Iona with a loss to non-conference opponent Bucknell in their last three. Over the weekend, the team went up 2-nil early and held off a late rally to spell the Jaspers, 2-1. Saint Peter's dropped its mid-week non-conference finale, 3-1, against Bucknell, in its previous match. The team has no trouble creating offense, as it takes exactly 13 shots a match, good for second in the league.
Manhattan (2-12-1, 0-4-1 MAAC) comes into the weekend looking for its first conference victory. The Jaspers, who head to Rider on Friday, fell to Saint Peter's, 2-1, in its last contest. The team has lost four consecutive MAAC matches.