Nov. 23, 2010
BALTIMORE, Md. - The Loyola University Maryland men's soccer team encountered struggles and successes throughout the 2010 campaign, but the squad could hold up the season as an example of the strength and heart of the program after appearing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship tournament for the 22nd straight time and making an impact on the Loyola record books with a 9-7-2 year.
When the final whistle blew, the Greyhounds finished fourth in the MAAC while picking up 13 MAAC weekly awards. Senior forward Phil Bannister also gave Loyola fans a season to remember, earning national recognition for his work on the pitch and in the classroom.
Expectations ran high entering the season. The rest of the MAAC tabbed the Greyhounds, returning 10 seniors from last year's MAAC Championship-winning team, as the favorite to win the league once again. Phil Bannister earned the distinction of MAAC Preseason Player of the Year and Gerwyn Jones joined Bannister on the Preseason All-MAAC Team.
The road ahead would not be an easy one, however, as the Greyhounds played the ninth-toughest schedule in the country and faced two teams in William & Mary and Maryland that reached the NCAA College Cup Sweet 16.
The 2010 campaign also marked the first season in the 6,000-seat, state-of-the-art Ridley Athletic Complex. The complex drew record crowds throughout the year, outdrawing the nearest MAAC team by more than 3,000 while averaging an attendance of 747 in nine home games.
The year began with a trip to Campbell University on September 1. The Greyhounds couldn't convert and battled through two overtimes to a 0-0 tie, but the match offered a peek at Loyola's strong defense as goalkeeper Kyle Wittman made five saves for his first shutout of the year.
The effort gave Wittman his first MAAC Defensive Player of the Week award on September 7. The senior netminder would earn four on the year.
Loyola returned home on September 7 for to play its first regular season game at the state-of-the-art Ridley Athletic Complex when the Greyhounds hosted William & Mary. More than 1,000 fans turned out to watch Phil Bannister notch his first goal of the season on a penalty kick, but the home side fell 3-1 to a Tribe squad that advanced to this year's NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
The Greyhounds wouldn't wait long to capture their first win. Loyola next hosted Quinnipiac University on September 11 in a matchup of teams both looking to enter the win column for the first time in 2010 and Loyola emerged with the victory. Eddie Dines scored one minute and four seconds after Quinnipiac's opening score and Zach Tweddell added the game-winner to make Loyola's record 1-1-1 by a 2-1 score.
Freshman defender Jamie Libby earned his first career MAAC award on September 13 when the league named him Rookie of the Week. He would be the only Greyhound to earn the honor during the season.
Hosting the Terps
One game remained on Loyola's opening three-game homestand with a contest against the then-ranked No. 7 University of Maryland on September 14. The Greyhounds looked to avenge last year's NCAA College Cup loss to Maryland in the opening round and were joined by a crowd of 2,090 to watch the match, marking the largest soccer crowd in the young history of Ridley Athletic Complex. The Greyhounds pressured the Terrapins throughout but Maryland's potent offense proved too much, knocking off Loyola, 3-0.
The Greyhounds suffered another loss on September 19 with a cross-town trip to Towson University. Phil Bannister added two goals to his season total but they weren't enough to overcome Towson's three scores. Freshman Stephen Dooley assisted on Bannister's second goal, giving the rookie the first point of his college career. Dooley added six more in 2010 to tie for the team lead in assists.
Rain halted a match between Loyola and UMBC the following Wednesday, September 22. The teams played through a scoreless 27 minutes before lightning forced a cancellation.
Loyola then embarked on a two-game road swing to then-No. 4 Monmouth and Villanova. The Greyhounds entered the Monmouth match with a 1-3-1 record and hopes of turning close losses into wins. Loyola struck first against the 6-0 Hawks, as newcomer sophomore transfer Gary Weisbaum potted his first goal in a Loyola uniform with a score in the 44th minute thanks to a Phil Bannister feed. Bannister added an insurance goal shortly after the halftime break to seal the historic upset.
Kyle Wittman recorded his second shutout of the year in the Monmouth win and Bannister's assist had significance beyond the scoresheet. The helper marked the 29th of Bannister's career, tying him with Stan Koziol and Marc Harrison atop the Loyola career assists list.
The accolades rolled in after the win over Monmouth. The MAAC gave two weekly awards to Greyhounds, with Phil Bannister winning MAAC Offensive Player of the Week and Kyle Wittman taking MAAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Bannister also earned a spot on the College Soccer News Team of the Week and Wittman was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Men's Soccer Defensive Player of the Week.
A road match against BIG EAST foe Villanova loomed next on September 29. Phil Bannister broke a scoreless tie at halftime with his fifth goal of the season in the 52nd minute before notching his sixth a minute later to put Loyola up, 2-0. Jamie Libby scored the first goal of his college career to give the Greyhounds a bigger cushion before Villanova notched a late score to make the final score 3-1, improving Loyola's record to an even 3-3-1.
On the Mend
The back line suffered a blow in the win as senior captain Charlie Hutton would play his final game after suffering an injury. Medical problems would saddle almost a third of the roster throughout the season, forcing the coaching staff to adjust the lineup game-to-game. Senior Karl Digbeu missed the entire year after an injury before the season and medical issues forced Mike Deasel to play only nine games as well.
Wins Roll In
Three days later, the Greyhounds hosted Family Day at Ridley Athletic Complex with a game against Adelphi to kick off another three-game homestand and end non-conference play. Phil Bannister started off the scoring with a goal in the 43rd minute and Gerwyn Jones and Danny Ankrah each registered their first of the year to knock off the Panthers, 3-1.
Two Greyhounds earned MAAC weekly awards on October 4 following the win. Phil Bannister took another MAAC Offensive Player of the Week honor while Gerwyn Jones earned MAAC Defensive Player of the Week for his goal and defensive work.
The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award committee named Phil Bannister a finalist for the award on October 7, bestowing a prestigious honor on the forward. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Loyola looked to keep the momentum going by beginning MAAC play with a pair of weekend games against Manhattan and Saint Peter's. The Greyhounds found little trouble against Manhattan, as Phil Bannister scored three goals to record a hat trick and Jamie Libby knocked in another to cruise past the Jaspers, 4-0.
The Greyhounds returned to Ridley Athletic Complex to face Saint Peter's on October 10 with a chance to extend the winning streak to five games. Loyola fell behind by a goal before halftime but freshman Diego McQuestion would find an equalizer, scoring the first goal of his career in the 58th minute to tie the match, 1-1. The tie would prove important in the MAAC standings, as the teams met again in the MAAC Semifinals.
Phil Bannister entered and exited the match several times after trying to play through a knee injury. Bannister would undergo season-ending surgery the following week, putting a tragic close to a stellar career for the player who led the nation in points per game and ranking in the top five in goals scored at the time.
The squad's play earned them a rare accomplishment, taking all three MAAC weekly awards. Phil Bannister took the MAAC Offensive Player of the Week award for the third straight week, Jamie Libby won MAAC Defensive Player of the Week and Diego McQuestion earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors for the first time.
With the team's MAAC record at 1-0-1, the team traveled to Rider for its lone game of the week on October 16. The Greyhounds only needed one goal from Eddie Dines in the 12th minute as Kyle Wittman picked up his fourth shutout of the year to top the Broncs, 1-0. The result ran Loyola's unbeaten streak to six games and helped Kyle Wittman earn another MAAC Defensive Player of the Week award.
Matches against Canisius and Niagara then sent the Greyhounds on a road trip through western New York. Without its leading scorer, the team needed offense from other players and found its answer in senior Glenn Leitch, who made his first appearance four games prior as he worked his way into the lineup from an injury. Leitch found his scoring touch against Canisius by scoring both of Loyola's goals to top the Golden Griffins, 2-0. Another Leitch goal and Wittman shutout followed against Niagara in a 1-0 Loyola victory, giving the team an eight-game unbeaten streak and three-game shutout streak.
Leitch earned a MAAC Offensive Player of the Week honor for his three-goal weekend and Kyle Wittman took both MAAC Defensive Player of the Week and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week awards thanks to his pair of shutouts.
Down the Stretch
The Greyhounds returned home to play their final two regular season games at Ridley Athletic Complex with tilts against Siena and Marist.
Loyola faced Siena first on October 29, who entered the game with a 4-1 MAAC record. Eddie Dines put the Greyhounds ahead in the 13th minute after finishing a beautiful cross from Glenn Leitch to give Loyola a 1-0 lead. The Saints would recover, however, scoring two in the second half to break Loyola's unbeaten streak and hand the Greyhounds their first conference loss, 2-1.
A Halloween matchup with Marist proved an exciting one for the Greyhounds. Glenn Leitch put Loyola ahead 2-0 with a pair of goals just 12 minutes into the match, but a three-goal onslaught from Marist put the Greyhounds behind. In the 68th minute, Leitch would complete the hat trick with help from Stephen Dooley and Eddie Dines headed home the eventual game winner in overtime to give Loyola a 4-3 win.
Glenn Leitch earned the MAAC Offensive Player of the Week award for his seven-point weekend, marking the second week in a row he nabbed the honor.
Loyola turned to freshman goalkeeper Thurman Van Riper to start the final two games of the season on the road against Fairfield and Iona after Kyle Wittman sustained an injury midway through the Marist win. The Greyhounds fell to Fairfield, 1-0, before dropping the season finale to Iona, 2-0, but Van Riper emerged as a reliable netminder for the future. Van Riper earned his first collegiate win against Marist after he stepped in for the injured senior in the second half.
Before the game, the team recognized the accomplishments of the senior class, which finished their college careers with three MAAC Tournament championships and an overall record of 57-20-7. Danny Ankrah, Phil Bannister, Mike Deasel, Karl Digbeu, Alex Garcev, Eddie Dines, Charlie Hutton and Glenn Leitch represented the stellar group of players honored before the win.
The final weekend in the MAAC gave Loyola the fourth seed in the 2010 Chick-fil-A MAAC Championship at the Ridley Athletic Complex. The Greyhounds found themselves matched up against top-seeded Saint Peter's in a Friday night semifinal under the lights.
The night before the match, the team attended the tournament banquet where MAAC officials named Phil Bannister and Gerwyn Jones to the All-MAAC First Team and Eddie Dines and Glenn Leitch to the Second Team. Jamie Libby and Stephen Dooley earned spots on the MAAC All-Rookie Team as well. Bannister, Dines and Leitch joined teammates Hector Arellano and Greg DiNardo on the MAAC All-Academic Team.
Loyola took the field against the Peacocks with Kyle Wittman in net and looking to advance. Jamie Libby gave the Greyhounds a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute with a header from a Kevin Curran free kick. The Peacocks answered a little over 10 minutes later when eventual MAAC Championship MVP Lebogang Pila tied the match with a free kick conversion to take the teams into halftime deadlocked, 1-1.
The Loyola defense stood strong as the team looked for a go-ahead goal throughout the second half. Neither side could find the net in regulation or the first overtime and the semifinal entered a double overtime after 105 minutes with no victor. Unfortunately for Loyola, Lebogang Pila scored his third goal against Loyola in the 107th minute to push the Peacocks into the MAAC Championship game and end Loyola's season, 2-1.
Seniors Mike Deasel and Wade McHugh were named to the MAAC All-Tournament team following the championship game, giving the two one more recognition to end the year. Phil Bannister was also named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team after the season for his work in the classroom and on the field.
The season may not have ended in storybook fashion for the Greyhounds, but the commitment and resiliency shown through injuries and against top-level competition made the 2010 campaign one to remember.
Awards and Accomplishments
- Phil Bannister was named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team after earning a spot on the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District II First Team, was a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Finalist and was named to the College Soccer News Team of the Week for the week ending September 26. He was also selected to MAAC All-Academic Team and named MAAC Offensive Player of the Week for three straight weeks (9/27, 10/4, 10/11).
- Kyle Wittman was named Eastern College Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week on September 28 and October 26 and named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week four times, on September 7 and 27 and October 18 and 25.
- Gerwyn Jones was named to the All-MAAC First Team.
- Glenn Leitch was named to the All-MAAC Second Team and MAAC All-Academic Team, as well as earning two straight MAAC Offensive Player of the Week awards on October 25 and November 1.
- Eddie Dines was named to the All-MAAC Second Team and MAAC All-Academic Team.
- Wade McHugh and Mike Deasel were named to the MAAC All-Tournament Team.
- Jamie Libby and Stephen Dooley were named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team. Libby was also named MAAC Rookie of the Week on September 13 and MAAC Defensive Player of the Week on October 11.
For the Record Books
- Phil Bannister moved to eighth on the Loyola all-time goals list with 40 and also increased his career point total to 109, jumping him to sixth place on the Loyola all-time points ledger. He currently shares Loyola's all-time career assists record as well, with 29. Bannister also led the team in points (21) and goals (10).
- Kyle Wittman led the MAAC in shutouts, with six.
- Gerwyn Jones led the team in minutes played, with 1,662.
- Freshman Stephen Dooley led the team in assists, with seven. He shared the feat with sophomore Kevin Curran.