Loyola’s rise in the rankings this week is a positive sign for the Eastern College Athletic Conference, but the No. 8 Greyhounds aren’t the only evidence of the league’s competitiveness.
No. 6 Denver went to the Final Four last spring and routed then-No. 6 Penn State, 14-6, on Saturday. No. 15 Fairfield joins Loyola as two of five remaining teams in Division I with undefeated records. Bellarmine knocked off then-No. 18 Dartmouth, 12-10, on March 6, Air Force edged Army, 9-8, in overtime, and even No. 19 Ohio State – which has dropped two straight – has a significant win against Denver.
“It’s great,” Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said Wednesday. “It’s what we’ve wanted. I think we’re all pulling for each other when we play these non-conference games. As a group of coaches, we’ve challenged each other to play as tough of a schedule out of our own conference, knowing that if we can get a few of those wins, it’s going to help the whole league.”
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Loyola (5-0) will put its unblemished mark on the line this Saturday when Air Force visits Ridley Athletic Complex. The Falcons are 3-1 and beat the Greyhounds, 8-6, last year for the first time in five meetings. That’s why Toomey is not overlooking Air Force.
“We know that any time you play a league opponent, you’re going to get their best shot,” he said. “We’re going to be prepared for Air Force, and they’re going to be prepared for Loyola. But we haven’t harped on [last season’s loss]. The guys know. That was a tough locker room last year when we lost that game. I think it was a turning point for us as a program.”