By virtue of defeating Maryland, 9-3, in the NCAA tournament final on Memorial Day and capturing the national championship, Loyola has gone from unknown and overlooked to recognized and celebrated.
And as the reigning national titlist in 2013, the Greyhounds will no longer be the hunters, but the hunted. And if that’s supposed to worry coach Charley Toomey, he didn’t verbalize those concerns.
“That’s really what made this team so unique. It didn’t matter what the label was because they didn’t care,” he said. “It was about the next opponent, it was about the next obstacle and – as Ray Lewis said [when the Ravens 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker spoke to the team on May 16] – just getting over that hurdle, each hurdle. These guys really listened to that message, but I really believe that was instilled in them way before the playoff run.”
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The NCAA crown was a fitting end for Toomey, who was the starting goalkeeper of the Loyola squad that fell to Syracuse in the championship final in 1990, and for the players, who endured the indignity of being unranked in the preseason. But Toomey said proving the naysayers wrong was never a priority for the team.
“It wasn’t about validation, it wasn’t about vindication, it wasn’t about any of that,” he said. “We just wanted to enjoy the game and enjoy each other. There was a real excitement to go out each day and get better. That’s what it was about. It wasn’t about trying to prove anything. It wasn’t about anything outside of our locker room.”