No. 11 Loyola Maryland and No. 7 Virginia will open their respective seasons Saturday in just one of two top-20 matchups this weekend. (No. 18 Navy at No. 4 Maryland is the other.) And coach Charley Toomey said the Greyhounds are getting healthier for the game.
"We're right now as healthy as we've been," he said Wednesday morning. "Minus a couple guys who are battling the flu, we anticipate them being back. The team that took the field last Saturday against Richmond [in a scrimmage], we feel like that's the group of guys who are going to be ready to play on Saturday. I think we're going to have our full complement."
In Loyola's first scrimmage against UMBC on Jan. 30, the team played without several projected starters in senior attackman Zach Herreweyers, senior midfielder Tyler Albrecht, junior long-stick midfielder Ryan Fournier and its entire close defense of redshirt senior David Manning, senior Jason Crane and junior Jack Carrigan.
Those six players returned for last Saturday's scrimmage at Richmond, and the difference was noticeable.
"We're better when we're healthy," Toomey said. "… Getting David Manning and Jack Carrigan and Jason Crane back and seeing them start to work togther as a unit, we're playing at our strength. We were able to do that against Richmond, and we were happy with what we saw defensively. I thought I saw some chemistry start to build there. Same thing in the first midfield. Not having Tyler Albrecht in the first scrimmage, but then getting him back for the second one, we started to see some chemistry. Not having Zach Herreweyers for the first scrimmage, but getting him back for the second one, we're finally seeing some chemistry develop down low. The key is to stay healthy and hopefully moving forward, we can be a healthy team."
Herreweyers and Manning are expected to play, but there is some question about whether they will start because of their respective ailments. If Herreweyers – who registered 47 goals and four assists in 2015 – can't start, junior Jordan Germershausen is poised to join junior Zack Sirico and freshman Pat Spencer as starters.
If Manning, who sat out last season because of a torn meniscus in his knee, doesn't start, sophomores Foster Huggins or Ryder Harkins could start alongside Carrigan and Crane.
For now, Toomey is optimistic that everyone will be available against a Cavaliers team that went 10-5 and earned an at-large berth in last year's NCAA tournament.
"You want those guys out there on the field in a game like this because it's going to be a high-level game," he said. "You know that Virginia is going to be as athletic as any team on our schedule. They've got the No. 1 recruit in the country [in freshman midfielder Ryan Conrad] as they do every other year. It's going to be a game that's played at a very high level. So we need to put our best guys in front of us."