Not many second midfields include a player who has scored 24 goals, but that’s the luxury No. 1 Loyola Maryland enjoys with Kevin Ryan.
The senior ranks third on the Greyhounds (14-1) in goals, trailing only a pair of attackmen in junior Nikko Pontrello (47) and senior Brian Schultz (33). Ryan has more goals and points (28) than the starting midfield of redshirt freshman Brian Sherlock (17 goals and 27 points), senior Matt Sawyer (18, 24) and freshman Romar Dennis (5, 9), but coach Charley Toomey said he prefers Ryan rounding out a second line that includes sophomore Tyler Albrecht (12, 17) and sophomore Jeff Chase (8, 13).
“I think it’s nice to have some balance,” Toomey said on Wednesday morning. “Certainly it’s a conversation that we coaches have talked about. I think he takes a little pressure off of some of the other guys on that line, and that line has been producing for us. We want to continue to make sure that our first line and second line are productive. It’d be very easy to just look at points and put your top three middies on the first line. But we're going to try to keep balance and the guys have developed that chemistry with their linemates, and I think that’s going to be something that we’re going to move forward with.”
Ryan’s success can be traced to his .471 shooting percentage, which leads the team and ranks 10th in Division I. Additionally, Ryan and Fairfield sophomore TJ Neubauer (Loyola High) are the only midfielders in the top 10 in that department.
Ryan plays on Loyola’s man-up offense and usually occupies the interior spot, which means high-percentage chances. Ryan, who leads the unit with six extra-man goals, has capitalized on his opportunities, Toomey said.
“When Kevin gets underneath a short-stick, he’s usually pretty close to the goal, and he doesn’t bail the goalie out by missing the cage very often,” Toomey said. “You’ve got to save it or it’s a goal. He doesn’t miss the goal much. He also plays inside for us on extra-man. He’s very comfortable in tight space to make plays, and I think that’s an interesting dynamic because he’s a middie. Most people will have an attackman in there. He’s very comfortable cutting, and they’re very comfortable throwing it to him in tight places. He’s been inside for us since 2012 on extra-man. … Kevin has been not only a senior leader, but we’ve watched his game continue to progress.”