Loyola finally back at full strength

Coach Charley Toomey finally got a glimpse of his Loyola team at full strength, and he liked what he saw from the reigning national champion’s performance in last Saturday’s 9-4 victory over then-No. 8 Ohio State.

The offense’s output was almost three goals fewer than the team’s season average, but the No. 10 Greyhounds (8-2) put on a defensive clinic against a Buckeyes unit that had averaged more than 10 goals prior to the loss.

Loyola had played the first seven games of the season without senior short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins for violating an unspecified team policy, senior attackman Mike Sawyer sat out two contests with an undisclosed injury, and senior midfielders Davis Butts and Chris Layne and senior defenseman Reid Acton each missed a game for various ailments.

Seeing them back on the field against Ohio State – an Eastern College Athletic Conference opponent – was a welcome sight for Toomey.

“We’re knocking on wood at the moment,” he quipped Tuesday evening. “I always say that it’s a journey, and what has happened to Loyola is, we’ve learned that we can win with guys that we can plug in and can help us at different times. So I’d like to believe that our bench is a little deeper. But it’s nice to see these guys out there. You pencil people in to different spots at the beginning of the year, and for one reason or another, we haven’t had the ability to play with us at full strength. So we’re looking forward to playing the rest of the season at full strength.”

The victory over the Buckeyes was the Greyhounds’ first this season against a top 10 opponent. And according to Laxpower.com’s RPI rankings, the victory came against an Ohio State team at No. 11 – the highest ranking for an opponent that Loyola has defeated.

“I think for Loyola, it was an important win,” Toomey said. “We knew going out to Ohio State that it was going to be a very tough game. They’ve got a top 10 RPI, and we needed a game like that on our resume just to start things. We didn’t have a big win. So that’s one we can kind of say, ‘We’ve got that one behind us.’ We need to put more on our resume, but that loss would have hurt us maybe more than a win helps you. There’s a good chance we’ll be seeing Ohio State again if things go right for the both of us in the conference tournament. But you need to put together a couple of those top 10 RPI wins.”