After recording 17 shutouts, earning All-America honors and becoming the nation's top goalkeeper while leading Loyola's men's soccer team to the NCAA tournament last fall, Zach Thornton might have been headed for at least a slight letdown in 1994, right?
Forget it. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior marches on, rewriting the record book as he goes. Sunday against Philadelphia Textile, Thornton notched his school-record ninth consecutive shutout as the Greyhounds (12-2-2) continued to look like a team ready to return to the national tournament.
tTC Thirty-two days have passed since Thornton failed to stop an opposing shot. That historic day was Sept. 18, when Thornton allowed a career-high three goals in a 3-3 tie with Wisconsin-Green Bay. And while the offense has been energized by senior Bill Wnek (23 points), Thornton is the main reason the Greyhounds have climbed to the No. 24 spot in the national rankings.
Thornton, after falling out of the national Top 10 goalkeeper rankings last month, has moved into fourth place with 11 shutouts and an 0.45 goals-against average.
Mount on map
Another entry on the Top 10 goalkeeper list may surprise you. Keith Kennedy of Mount St. Mary's, on the strength of six shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.56, began the week ranked sixth in the nation. That serves as a reminder that the Mountaineers finally have arrived on the Division I map.
At 8-3-2, the Mountaineers are contending for the Northeast Conference title, an achievement that would put them within reach of their first NCAA tournament. An NEC tournament championship would send Mount St. Mary's into a play-in game against the Patriot League champ, with the winner automatically qualifying for the NCAAs.
UMBC on a roll
The volleyball team at UMBC keeps rolling behind senior setter Judy Jackson. With three-game sweeps over Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina last weekend, the Retrievers (14-3, 4-0 in the Big South) are off to the best start in school history.
Jackson, who averages 10.8 assists in the Big South, second in the league, averaged 12.7 assists last week, which elevated her to conference Player of the Week status. Jackson was chosen National Player of the Week last month.
UMBC is winning with balance as much as anything. The offense has been spread among hitters Jenn Erlandson (Severna Park), Dana Eberly, Anna Gibbs, Circe Thompson and Jen Jewell.
Defensively, Thompson is averaging 3.83 digs per game, and Eberly is averaging 1.13 blocks.
Thornton vs. Dougherty
Speaking of Loyola men's soccer, the Greyhounds will need Thornton at his best when they travel to Maryland next Wednesday for a game that figures to be loaded with NCAA tournament implications.
Thornton will match up against Maryland striker Shane Dougherty, who has sparked a potent Terrapins offense as he did at Fallston High, a few miles from John Carroll, Thornton's alma mater.
And, provided Loyola beats Fairfield as expected this weekend, the Greyhounds will be going after career victory No. 200 for 15th-year coach Bill Sento at Maryland.
Towson State not on a roll
Towson State's volleyball team, which set a school record with 30 victories last year, will not be breaking that record this fall. Largely because of their inability to win at home, the Tigers are 10-10.
But the Tigers do have one of the nation's top defensive players in junior Stacy Humphries. She leads all NCAA Division I players with an average of 5.1 digs per game.