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Loyola's Brian Schultz to make first career start in season opener at Virginia

Senior attackman Brian Schultz is expected to make his first career start when Loyola visits Virginia on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

Schultz had three goals and five assists in 26 games in 2012 and 2013, but he will join senior Justin Ward (Old Mill) and junior Nikko Pontrello as starters, according to Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey.

“He’s a guy that we’ve been going with since the spring has started,” Toomey said Wednesday morning. “But there’s competition there. We’re waiting to see who blossoms. But Brian has played really well in scrimmages and has practiced well. Quite honestly, there’s a comfort level between he and Justin Ward because they played on the same club team [RoughRiders] together. It’s been fun to watch the development of Brian Schultz for sure.”

Schultz will get his opportunity because sophomore Zach Herreweyers (19 goals and three assists in 2013) has been ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming season. Toomey confirmed the decision, which was first reported by

“Obviously, it impacts you, but what I think we’re going to try to do is we’re going to ask a lot of other people to step their games up -- guys like Nikko Pontrello,” Toomey said. “I think it puts more pressure on Justin Ward and Nikko Pontrello and guys like [senior midfielders] Kevin Ryan and Matt Sawyer who have played a lot of minutes for us to maybe make up a little bit that we’ve lost on that side while we allow guys to grow into that spot. It’s a great opportunity for Brian Schultz, it’s a great opportunity for [freshmen] Jordan Germershausen and Zack Sirico to develop for us.”

The loss of Herreweyers could be mitigated if the midfield can perform as it did in Saturday’s scrimmage against North Carolina. Senior Pat Laconi and freshman Brian Sherlock each scored twice, and sophomore Jeff Chase (Boys’ Latin) and freshman Romar Dennis added one goal each against the Tar Heels, giving Toomey some room to breathe.

“We’ve been waiting for Jeff Chase to really log some minutes and be the guy that we recruited, and we’re starting to see that,” he said. “Matt Sawyer has been kind of waiting in the wings, but he has played in games for us, probably more as a D-middie. He’s been a middie, he’s been a D-middie, he’s been an attackman for us. And now he’s running on the first and second shifts in the midfield, and he shoots the ball awful hard. So if we can get him some time and space, we feel pretty confident that it can go in the goal. It’s just a funny group because I don’t think there’s any one guy. They all seem to do some things well, and they’re developing chemistry as a group.”

As well as Laconi played, however, he is not expected to become a full-time member of the offensive midfield as Loyola needs him to defend opposing midfielders and ignite the team’s transition.

“To me, he still is offense,” Toomey said of Laconi, who posted four goals and six assists last season. “Our offense starts with transition, and Pat gives us the ability to score in goals in transition. What you may pick up having him on the offensive end, you may lose in transition. We really feel strongly that he’s one of the best D-middies in the country, and it would be hard to take him off the field while we’re playing defense. We still want to put up a number on the board defensively, and Pat and [senior defenseman] Joe Fletcher allow us to kind of talk about those goals.”

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