The wait begins for Loyola
The winner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament won't be determined until after No. 18 Massachusetts plays Rutgers, but if you think the Greyhounds are sitting around and twiddling their thumbs, guess again.
No. 19 Loyola (6-1 in the ECAC) would win the automatic qualifier if the Minutemen (5-1) lose on Saturday, but the Greyhounds are gearing up for another installment in their rivalry with No. 8 Johns Hopkins on Saturday. And as far as coach Charley Toomey is concerned, that game is just as important as a conference tournament final.
"That is our conference championship," Toomey said. "It’s certainly a way to play your way into the tournament. Playing Johns Hopkins at the end of the year is a great opportunity for us. So we’ll let Rutgers play UMass and let the league play its way out. We know we’re sitting at 6-1 [in the ECAC], and it’s a great opportunity on Saturday to put a good number in front of our record for the committee to look at."
A catalyst in Loyola's four-game winning streak has been the play of junior attackman Collin Finnerty, who scored four goals in the first quarter of a 16-7 victory over Hobart on Saturday. Finnerty, who ranks second on the team in goals (23), assists (13) and points (36), has scored four goals in a game three times this season and nine goals in his last four contests.
But Finnerty isn't just a goal-scorer. He led the team in assists with four against Syracuse and three against St. John's.
"One thing that impressed us against Syracuse is that he’s just not a shooter," Toomey said. "He led our team in assists that day and the development for Collin has been that he’s just not a one-dimensional guy. If it presents himself that [junior attackman] Cooper [MacDonnell] is open on the corner, he can make that look or same thing down to [senior attackman] Shane [Koppens] on the other side. That’s where his development has been. He’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s a guy who can take it inside, carry it and now feed."