Denver at Loyola: Three things to watch
Both teams enter Wednesday night’s contest involving Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals saddled with recent losses. No. 17 Denver, the reigning conference regular-season champion, dropped a 10-9 decision to No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday night and flew in to Baltimore on Sunday night because the school is on spring break. No. 15 Loyola absorbed a 14-9 setback by Duke, which scored the game’s first nine goals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.
1) Turnovers. Part of the Greyhounds’ troubles against the Blue Devils on Friday night was an inability to protect the ball. Loyola committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, and Duke turned those miscues in three goals. Just as important was that the Greyhounds had limited possessions and opportunities on offense.”I think the bigger stat was the turnovers and where those turnovers were occurring,” coach Charley Toomey said. “You allow a team to run on you and score eight easy goals. … And we certainly know that we played a Denver team that has three very talented attackmen. So we’re going to have to lock it up down low.”
2) The Pioneers’ defense. Denver is surrendering an average of 8.6 goals per game. That’s middle-of-the-pack in Division I, but the unit ranks eighth in the nation in caused turnovers (10.4). Still, the Pioneers start an entire defense composed of first-year players in senior defensemen Jeff Brown and Steve Simonetti, freshman defenseman Harley Brown and freshman goalkeeper Jamie Faus. “We’re going to look for opportunities between the lines, and if they’re not there, we’re going to have to make sure that we run our offense and put ourselves in position to challenge a younger group, but a younger group that’s playing very well,” Toomey said. “That’s still a Bill Tierney-coached defense, and they know how they want to slide and who they want to slide to. They make good decisions and cover up with their second slides. So we’re going to have to move the ball and really work hard to get good offensive looks.”
3) Faceoffs. The game within the game could involve Denver sophomore Chase Carraro and Greyhounds senior John Schiavone on faceoffs. Carraro is tied for 14th in the country at 62.2 percent (56-of-90), while Schiavone is five spots behind at 58.8 percent (40-of-68). “Any time you look at the numbers and you see a young man around 60 percent, that concerns you,” Toomey said of Carraro, who went 0-of-4 against Loyola last season. “He’s a very athletic faceoff guy who’s got good hands and the ability to go forward or work with his wings. John will be up for that. He’s excited about that opportunity, and we’ll just have to see how things go throughout the game.”