Loyola's Toomey a quick study of Denver
Just two days removed from No. 6 Loyola’s 17-12 victory over Eastern College Athletic Conference foe Hobart last Saturday, Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey was already elbow-deep in his study of No. 18 Denver.
That’s because the winner of Sunday’s contest at Invesco Field between Loyola (9-2 overall and 6-0 in the ECAC) and the Pioneers (10-4, 5-0) will capture the conference title and will automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
So by Monday, Toomey sounded like a long-time Denver fan as he talked about that team’s strengths.
"Their first two midfields have just about doubled up our first two midfields," Toomey said. "I think their first two midfields have 68 goals and 43 assists to our first two midfields’ 41 and 27. So they are very balanced. And their attack has scored 67 goals. So they’re getting production from all over the field. It’s a team that really shares the ball offensively, and they can attack you from all different areas. … We’re just going to do what we’ve done the last couple of weeks and do our best to prepare for our opponent and limit those looks that they’re going to get on the offensive end."
The Pioneers have rebounded from last season when they went 7-8 and failed to qualify for the four-team Great Western Lacrosse League Tournament, and part of the credit goes to coach Bill Tierney, who left Princeton after the 2009 season.
Tierney is widely regarded as one of the strongest defensive gurus, and Toomey said you can see Tierney’s fingerprints on Denver.
"I think early on in the year, you saw a team still transitioning to a Coach T team, maybe still caught up in the mindset of taking some chances." Toomey said. "Now they look like a very cerebral defensive team. Slide and recover, very smart away from the ball. … They can win individual match-ups, and they really limit what you can get to look at on the offensive end. They’re doing a good job out there."