Postscript from Loyola at Johns Hopkins
The No. 18 Greyhounds have to wait until Sunday to learn of their postseason fate, but they certainly feel as if they’ve done enough to warrant an invitation to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, which begins Saturday.
"We should be in this tournament," senior attackman Shane Koppens said. "We have the record, we have the strength of schedule. You never know what can happen though. I don’t know what the [selection] committee does to choose who makes it or who doesn’t. We’re going to be praying they choose us to play somebody. I don’t care who it is. We can play anybody. Just praying that they give us a shot."
Loyola is thought to be competing with No. 5 Brown (12-3) and No. 13 Maryland (9-6) for one of two coveted at-large bids.
The Terps have won just three of their last seven games and have the lowest RPI of the three (No. 14), but they have beaten two teams ranked in the top 10 in RPI in Duke (No. 2) and North Carolina (No. 8). The Bears’ RPI is just slightly better (No. 12) and they missed out on a chance to win the Ivy League title and the automatic qualifier, but they beat Cornell (No. 10).
The Greyhounds have an interesting case in that they don’t have a win against an opponent in the top 10 in RPI. But they have lost to No. 1 Syracuse, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 9 Johns Hopkins by a combined three goals, own a strength of schedule ranked in the top five, and boast a RPI of nine.
"The committee’s got some challenges," Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. "If I was to make a statement, I would say we played the third toughest schedule. … You’re playing a quality schedule against some quality teams. Obviously, we thought this was going to be a game we needed to get into the tournament. So we’re going to look at ourselves right now. You hate to rely on other people to get you through.
"But hey, there have been years where it’s come down to the numbers," he continued. "I can remember in 2006, Harvard gets in at 6-6, losing their last three games, and they said, ‘It’s not a numbers thing, it’s a strength-of-schedule thing.’ … So what is it going to be? Is it going to be big wins or numbers? If it’s numbers, we look doggone good. If it’s about big wins, then we might be on the outside looking in."
*Michael Gvozden surrendered 10 goals to Loyola, but the Blue Jays junior looked like the same goalkeeper who powered the school to a NCAA Tournament final appearance last season. He stoned junior attackman Collin Finnerty on an attempt in front of the net in the first quarter, which accounted for one of his 15 saves. Afterwards, Toomey said that was Gvozden’s best performance of the season. "It’s confidence," Gvozden said of his recent turnaround in the team’s six-game winning streak. "I don’t care if people slam me. I’ve had bad games before, but I’ve proven I can do this."
*The Greyhounds didn’t have the services of junior face-off specialist John Schiavone (pulled hamstring), but Michael Atkinson filled the void. The senior won 14 of 26 face-offs, including nine of 12 in the first half. He also scored the team’s second goal of the game when he took a face-off and beat Gvozden. "This year, John and I have been battling," Atkinson said. "In practice, it’s really been whoever is doing better on that day. All season, he’s been doing great. I would say we have confidence that either one of us can do well."
*Loyola junior attackman Cooper MacDonnell had scored a goal in every game this season – until Saturday. Much of the credit goes to Johns Hopkins senior defenseman Matt Drenan, who limited MacDonnell to just one assist and five shots – one of which was on net. "He’s a great player, and he’s had a great season," Drenan said of MacDonnell. "It wasn’t anything specific. I just relied on the help of my teammates." … Koppens finished with two goals and two assists, but he was complimentary of Blue Jays senior defenseman Michael Evans. "He is a hell of a player," Koppens said. "He can play." … Johns Hopkins junior attackman Steven Boyle scored a goal in the second quarter after sitting out the team’s 12-5 victory over Mount St. Mary’s on Monday.