Reigning national champion Loyola has split its last two games, but there is one noticeable issue: a sudden lack of punch on offense.
The Greyhounds (4-2) have scored eight goals in each of the games. That was enough for a two-goal victory over Bellarmine on March 2, but it was problematic in a one-goal loss to Duke on Friday night that dropped Loyola from No. 4 to No. 14 in The Sun’s weekly rankings.
The offense is shooting just 21.9 percent over those two contests and has misfired on 5-of-6 extra-man opportunities. Still, coach Charley Toomey isn’t sounding the panic alarm over the unit’s recent woes.
“I think it’s a group that’s coming together,” he said Tuesday. “They know it. They know that we’re challenging them to get at least 10 goals per game, and defensively, we’re trying to hold people to single digits. They understand that there’s work to be done on that side of the field. But I think it comes down to your leadership and your character, and they’re working hard, they’re doing the right things. They’re in the office with Coach [David] Metzbower [the offensive coordinator]. I don’t want them to play with the frustration. I don’t want them to feel pressured that they’ve got to force things out there. It has to come, and that’s what we’re trying to develop, that chemistry.”
The Greyhounds’ troubles have been especially personified by the starting midfield’s struggles. The senior threesome of Davis Butts, Chris Layne and Sean O’Sullivan has combined for four goals on 20 shots and one assist.
Toomey is confident that the first midfield will contribute more often.
“People know those three and know how to defend them and we’re asking different people to step up,” he said. “We’re challenging whoever has the short stick, ‘You have to run by somebody and initiate and start the offense.’ It’s what every team does out there.”
On a related note, Toomey said that senior short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins’ status has not changed as the team prepares for Saturday’s road game against Air Force. Hawkins has not played this season while serving a suspension for violating an undisclosed team policy.