Reigning national champion Loyola boasts the 14th-most prolific offense in Division I despite not getting much production from its first midfield.
Senior Chris Layne ranks fourth on the team in goals (12) and points (20), but senior Davis Butts is tied for sixth in points (12) and senior Sean O’Sullivan is eighth in points (11). Butts is on pace for just five goals, which would be the fewest of his career since his freshman year in 2010. Sullivan is on pace to finish the season with 14 points, which would his lowest since transferring from Army.
But the No. 8 Greyhounds (9-2 overall and 5-0 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference) – who will play host to top-ranked Denver (9-2, 4-0) this Saturday at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore – haven’t missed a step, and coach Charley Toomey said the first midfield is still initiating the offense and aiding teammates like junior attackman Justin Ward (23 goals and 24 assists) and sophomore attackman/midfielder Nikko Pontrello (13, 14).
“Whether or not it’s teams keying on guys or other people stepping up, we talk about the fact that we need guys to be able to pick up their points in other areas, and I think that’s what you’re seeing from Nikko, that’s what you’re seeing from Justin,” Toomey said. “I think Davis would talk to you a little bit more about his shooting percentage. We need to get him the looks that he’s getting, but we need to can a few of those. I think Layne is on par for where he was, and Sully probably had a few more extra-man goals at this point last year. Those guys are playing pretty well right now, and we’re hopeful that we’re going to see their best in the second half of the season.”
Freshman attackman Zach Herreweyers is expected to return after missing last Saturday’s 13-7 victory over Fairfield. (“We believe he’s going to play,” Toomey said.) Herreweyers’ return could move Pontrello to midfield, and Toomey didn’t shut the door on the possibility of adding Pontrello to the mix of the first line.
“That’s something that we’ve considered,” he said. “We’ve considered a lot of different things – whether or not it’s [senior attackman] Michael Sawyer who’s been a former middie for us. We’re looking at trying to make ourselves a little more dynamic, a little different game to game. [Offensive coordinator David] Metzbower does a terrific job of getting those guys to their strengths and in space. So it’s all on the table. The good news is, I think he’s done a terrific job with these guys in that they’re not pigeon-holed into one position. So we’re just trying to watch film and trying to figure out where we can attack game to game, and if that means moving people around, then that’s what we’re willing to do.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun