Dec. 3, 2012
After stringing together an eight-game winning streak, its longest win streak since 2008, the Loyola University Maryland men's soccer team took the top seed into the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament and barely missed earning a berth to the NCAA College Cup. With an RPI of 44, the Greyhounds finished the year ranked second in the NSCAA North Atlantic Region and were one of only 30 schools nationally with at least 13 wins.
Freshman Larry Ndjock, the MAAC Rookie of the Year, led the Greyhounds through the tail end of their conference season, scoring six goals in the last four regular-season games, including two game winners, to help Loyola capture the No. 1 in the four-team conference tournament.
The Greyhounds handed both Siena and Iona their first conference losses of the season, en route to a league-best 7-1 MAAC record. They also knocked off James Madison - a team coming off a 1-0 win over No. 1 North Carolina - and Big West Champions and NCAA Tournament participant Cal State Northridge, 2-1, at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Top of the MAAC
Loyola's back line of Kevin Curran, Gerwyn Jones, Jamie Libby and Zach Tweddell helped junior goalkeeper Thurman Van Riper shutout four MAAC opponents, more than any other team in the league through the regular season. The defense finished the year atop the MAAC in shutouts and saves, while it also ranked second in goals-against average. Offensively, the Greyhounds led the league in every category - points, goals and assists.
Ndjock, the top rookie in the NCAA in scoring through the regular season, tallied a MAAC-best 13 goals in his inaugural season, more than any individual Greyhound since Phil Bannister in 2007. He was also tied for first in the league with 29 points. In addition to rookie of the year honors, Ndjock earned spots on the All-MAAC First Team and MAAC All-Rookie Team to become the first Greyhound since Omar Alfonso (2003) to earn all three honors in the same season.
Jones and sophomore Connor Thompson joined Ndjock as first-team all-conference honorees, while junior Stephen Dooley garnered second-team accolades and freshman Dominic Marshall was included on the all-rookie team.
Loyola opened the season at Saint Francis (Pa.), playing a program that had posted a 13-1-2 record through their previous 16 home games, to a scoreless draw. The Greyhounds then knocked off a strong Cal State Northridge side in their first weekend playing at home.
Loyola continued its streak with a shutout win at crosstown-rival Towson, before returning home to score four goals in a win over James Madison, the most the Greyhounds have scored since 2010. It also ties the record for most goals scored in a game at Ridley Athletic Complex.
As a team, the Greyhounds maintained at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and were honored with an NSCAA Team Academic Award for the fourth time in the last five years.
Van Riper was also named a CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District III First Team goalkeeper, while senior Hector Arellano, sophomore Joseph Cahalan, Dooley, Libby, sophomore Carson Prior, Thompson, Tweddell and sophomore Andrew Waddington joined Van Riper on the MAAC All-Academic Team.
The Greyhounds had four named to the NCAA Division I Men's All-North Atlantic Region teams, second to Monmouth's five selections. Jones was honored for the third-straight year, while it's his first appearance on the first team. Thompson and Ndjock were both included on the second team and Dooley was a third team honoree.
This season marked Loyola's final year in the MAAC. The Greyhounds leave the league with as many conference titles as all of the other teams combined (12). They advanced to the MAAC Championships a league-record 24-straight years and participated in the Division I NCAA Tournament eight times, including making five tournament appearances under head coach Mark Mettrick.
Loyola earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament eight times under Mettrick, a five-time MAAC Coach of the Year, while 14 Greyhounds earned Player, Defender or Rookie of the Year honors under his tutelage.
Next year, the Greyhounds will play in the Patriot League, a conference in which Lafayette earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Loyola's lone Patriot League opponent this year was American, which the Greyhounds beat 2-0 in Baltimore. The Eagles finished their conference season at the top of the league standings with a 5-0-2 record.