“We’re going to talk about it all week, and we’ll have something hanging in their locker room,” Toomey said. “We’re going to get them excited about this lacrosse game. They need to hear it because this definitely gives the winner the leg up in the conference, and we need to make sure that it’s Loyola.”
Saturday’s game against Fairfield is no ordinary contest for No. 7 Loyola.
Not only do the visiting Greyhounds clash with another Eastern College Athletic Conference rival, but they put their undefeated 4-0 record in the league against the Stags’ 3-0 mark.
Loyola coach Charley Toomey said he would not be shy about using both teams’ unbeaten records as a motivational tool.
A victory would go a long way towards further securing the team’s bid for the NCAA Tournament. The Greyhounds (6-2 overall) captured the 2008 conference title and shared last year’s crown with Massachusetts. But because the league does not have a season-ending tournament and the Minutemen owned the tiebreaker, Loyola had to hope to receive an at-large bid.
Instead, the Greyhounds were shut out of the field and missed what would have been their third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Like Loyola, Fairfield is also 6-2 overall, outscoring opponents 17-6 in the first quarter and 43-18 in the first half. Toomey said the Greyhounds must match the Stags’ fast starts.
“We’ve always talked about winning the first five minutes, and over the years, we’ve done a good job of coming out and playing with a lot of energy – whether it’s Fairfield or anyone,” he said. “That’s definitely going to be a talking point for us this week. We need to challenge our guys to always win the first five minutes, but in particular, this weekend.”
Another storyline centers on Fairfield senior goalkeeper Joe Marra, who ranks second in Division I in save percentage (.623) and fourth in goals-against average (7.33). Marra spent the 2006-07 year at Loyola, but transferred to the Stags.
“One thing that Joe Marra does a good job of is, he fills up the cage,” Toomey said. “He’s a big kid [6-foot-2, 220 pounds] that plays pretty athletic in there. So that’s a challenge. The closest we’ve come to seeing a Joe Marra was [Notre Dame’s 6-foot-4, 254-pound senior] Scott Rodgers, size-wise. I think the guys do know Joe and having had him in our locker room, I don’t know that it brings anything extra to what we need to do on Saturday. He’s a good goalie, but he’s just the next goalie up against Loyola.”