The Loyola University Maryland men's soccer team wrapped up its 2011 campaign with its 37th 10-win season in program history. The Greyhounds knocked off some of the region's top competition throughout the year by outscoring their opponents, 24-17, and posting eight shutouts, before ending the season at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
In addition, with a 2-0 victory over Saint Peter's on October 9, head coach Mark Mettrick became the 45th active head coach to reach the 200-win plateau. Mettrick is the only current MAAC head coach to have recorded 200 career victories.
Throughout the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Greyhounds relied on second-half scoring and stingy defense, en route to a 5-2-1 record and a 4-0 mark at home. In those eight games, Loyola scored eight of its 10 goals in the final 45 minutes of play and notched four shutout victories.
Sophomore transfer Geaton Caltabiano recorded the first goal of the year in the 55th minute of a 1-0 season-opening win at Adelphi, marking the 44th time in program history that the Greyhounds started the season victorious.
Loyola then headed to No. 8 William & Mary, where it challenged a nationally ranked Tribe squad that was coming off an upset victory over No. 5 SMU in their season opener. Nicolas Abrigo - the National Player of the Week for that week - scored early for W&M, leading the Tribe to 1-0 victory.
The Greyhounds then closed out their three-game season-opening road swing with a 3-3 tie at Navy. Loyola fell behind two goals in the first half, but responded with three-unanswered scores after halftime to take its first lead of the game. The Greyhounds were unable to quiet the Midshipmen though as they found their equalizer right before the game was called early due to inclement weather.
Sophomore Vegard Vinje notched the first goal of the season at Ridley Athletic Complex, heading his first collegiate score into the net in the 85th minute to lift Loyola to a 1-0 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) in front of a season high 905 fans. Vinje was later named the MAAC Rookie of the Week for his play.
The game also sparked a win streak for Loyola, as the Greyhounds topped Towson, 2-1, and Campbell, 1-0, before Baltimore natives sophomore Diego McQuestion and redshirt senior Wade McHugh each scored to lead Loyola to a 2-0 win over crosstown-rival UMBC, capping a five-game unbeaten streak for the Greyhounds.
Loyola wrapped up its non-conference slate with a tough 1-0 loss at Quinnipiac. The Greyhounds outshot Bobcats, 20-15, in the contest and held an 11-4 advantage in corner kicks, but Loyola had a header hit off the crossbar and a goal erased due to a penalty, allowing Quinnipiac to hold on for the victory.
Loyola, one of the elite programs in the MAAC, had a tough opening weekend of conference play, hosting eventual league champion Fairfield and preseason favorite Iona at Ridley Athletic Complex. Loyola battled each of its conference foes, but ultimately saw its comeback fall short in both games.
Against Fairfield, the Greyhounds gave up two well-placed first-half goals, but regrouped at halftime and held the Stags without a shot in the second half. Sophomore Stephen Dooley looked to spark Loyola's comeback, converting a penalty kick in the 74th minute, but the Greyhounds, despite outshooting Fairfield 10-5, were unable to find their equalizer as they fell, 2-1.
Loyola then battled league-favorite Iona to what looked like a 2-2 tie, but the Gaels scored in the 82nd minute to escape with a 3-2 victory.
The Greyhounds learned from the losses and responded with their most dominating victory of the season, earning a 3-0 win at Manhattan.
From there, Caltabiano and graduate senior goalkeeper Kyle Wittman combined to lead the team to a six-game unbeaten streak. Caltabiano scored four-straight goals through the next three games and Wittman ran his shutout streak to a season-long 455 minutes, as Loyola downed Saint Peter's, Rider and Canisius, before tying Niagara and beating Siena.
With a 2-1 win at Siena, Loyola clinched the third seed at the upcoming MAAC Championships and secured its place among the league's top-four regular-season finishers for a conference record 23rd-straight year.
Following a first-round bye in the conference tournament, Loyola faced Manhattan in the quarterfinal round. The Greyhounds outshot the Jaspers, 17-10, throughout the contest, including holding an 11-4 edge in corner kicks, but Manhattan found the back of the net in the 35th minute to take the lead.
Loyola's attack continued to pressure as it looked for its equalizer, but the Jaspers' goalkeeper turned back eight shots - including a penalty kick in regulation - to keep the Greyhounds off the board. In goal for Loyola, Wittman did not record a save.
That game marked the final collegiate contest for McHugh and Wittman, who concluded their careers as Greyhounds with an overall record of 48-23-8, including a 25-7-4 mark in MAAC play and a 25-10-4 record at home.
The co-captains helped Loyola to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances throughout their careers, in addition to a MAAC regular season title and a conference tournament title.
Individually, McHugh was a two-time MAAC All-Tournament Team selection, in addition to a MAAC Rookie of the Week in 2008, while Wittman finished his career as a seven-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Awards and Accomplishments
Loyola had multiple Greyhounds honored at the MAAC banquet at Disney's Animal Kingdom following the conference tournament. Junior Gerwyn Jones and Dooley were each voted to the All-MAAC First Team, while sophomore Jamie Libby and Caltabiano were named to the second team and freshman Connor Thompson was honored on the league's all-rookie team.
In addition, Loyola placed seven on the MAAC All-Academic Team; junior Hector Arellano, sophomore Alex Bullington, sophomore Cameron Coppola, Dooley, sophomore transfer Nick Irvine, Libby and sophomore Thurman Van Riper.
Regionally, Jones was selected to the NCAA Division I All-North Atlantic Region Second Team, while Arellano was honored for his work in the classroom and on the field, being named to the NSCAA Men's Scholar All-East Region Honorable Mention Team.
Ridley Athletic Complex
This season marked the second for the Greyhounds at their new state-of-the-art home facility. Loyola drew 4,806 fans to the Ridley Athletic Complex this year, averaging 534 fans per game, helping Loyola to a 6-2-1 record, including an unblemished 4-0-0 record against non-conference foes.
Although Loyola's season ended in disappointment, the Greyhounds have high hopes for the future. Six Greyhounds made their debut for the green and grey this year, while Loyola had 10 different players score a goal this season - nine of which will return for next year. In addition, all 10 of the Greyhounds' game-winning tallies were scored by an underclassman this season.