Not only was Sunday’s 14-7 victory over No. 6 Duke critical for boosting Loyola Maryland's resume for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament if it doesn’t capture the Patriot League automatic qualifier, it was another piece of evidence suggesting that the team is moving in the right direction.
But as No. 3 Loyola (5-1) is getting praised roundly and moving into the top three in many polls, coach Charley Toomey said he is not concerned about the players’ mental state after the emotionally charged outcome against the reigning national champion Blue Devils.
“We have a captains meeting [every Monday], and the captains said the right things,” he said Wednesday morning. “We know that we’re entering league play [on Saturday against Army], and we’ve got our first Saturday home game at Ridley [Athletic Complex in Baltimore]. The kids are back off of spring break, we’re playing an undefeated Patriot League team, a service academy team. So I think it’s going to be a week where our kids are going to continue to prepare like they have. That’s all I look for. I look for tiers in our preparation, and I’ve seen everything that I’ve wanted to see thus far this week.”
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Toomey could get an assist from the impending visit by the Black Knights, who are 4-2 overall but tied with the Greyhounds atop the Patriot League with a 2-0 conference record. Army is a worthy candidate for their attention and focus.
Toomey said his lack of worry stems from his trust in a trio of team captains in attackman Justin Ward (Old Mill), defenseman Joe Fletcher and short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Laconi and the other eight seniors on the roster.
“I think for younger guys to step in and fill some roles we needed them to, I think it comes down to discipline,” Toomey said. “It makes their lives easier that there’s a system that has been handed down by our seniors. I really believe that our seniors this year have done a terrific job of mentoring younger guys and giving them the confidence to come in and fill some roles. That comes down to senior leadership, that comes down to preparation, that comes down to practice. I like how the team is going about their business at the moment.”