Loyola welcomes back Shane Koppens
Just in case people forgot how good Shane Koppens is, the senior attackman for No. 19 Loyola scored three goals in an 8-7 win against Eastern College Athletic Conference foe Penn State on Saturday. It was his first contest of the season after serving a two-game suspension as part of gaining a fifth year of eligibility.
Koppens' tally with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter capped the fifth hat trick of his career and proved to be the winning goal for the Greyhounds (2-1 overall and 1-0 in the ECAC), who are tied with St. John's for the conference lead.
"He didn't waste much time getting into the mix," Loyola coach Charley Toomey marveled. "He's a kid who -- as I've always said -- is going to have the ball go through his stick every time down [the field]. He's our offensive leader, he's our decision maker. I think he really cherishes that role and embraces it. He just makes people around him better."
Koppens' presence benefited junior attackman Cooper MacDonnell, who also scored three goals. Prior to Saturday, MacDonnell, who led the team in goals with 22 last season, had found the net just twice. But Toomey refused to buy into an early-season slump as an explanation for MacDonnell's slow start.
"I don't know that he was ever out of the groove other than he was taking on the [opposing] team's best defender," Toomey said. "Now with Shane Koppens coming back into the mix, you've got to make some decisions. I think it all goes hand-in-hand. Shane takes a lot of pressure off of Cooper as well as [junior attackman] Collin [Finnerty]. So now, you've really got make some decisions as to how you want to guard Loyola's attack."
As the reigning ECAC champions, the Greyhounds have a one-game lead on No. 20 Georgetown, which lost to St. John's last Saturday and had captured six titles prior to last season. Just don't tell Toomey that.
"It's such a long season, and there are so many games to be played that you just can't look up right now," he said. "You've got to continue to take care of your own business. In fact, I wouldn't even say Loyola's in first place. I would say St. John's is. They're 3-0 [overall], and we're 2-1. I think you've got to give St. John's a lot of credit for doing what they've done so far."