With Friday night's 14-7 victory over No. 18 Fairfield in the Eastern College Athletic Conference final, No. 3 Loyola captured its first tournament championship. The realization of that achievement is still sinking in for coach Charley Toomey.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet," Toomey said by phone before boarding a plane at Denver International Airport Saturday morning. "I think just for me as a coach, looking at the kids' expressions on their faces as they were holding that trophy and just running around the field and having dinner and enjoying each other's company last night at Maggiano's here in Denver, that's when it started to really ring true that this is something special. Obviously, it's been a goal of ours the whole year, and the kids have responded week in and week out. Getting over that bear of Denver on Wednesday night, our kids were just very confident going into yesterday's game and they played at a level that we were hopeful of seeing. We played just so fast between the lines, and the guys did everything that they were supposed to do in six-on-six sets and defensively. We're tickled pink, but we know there's a lot of work to be done."
The Greyhounds beat the Pioneers (8-6) 14-13 in overtime Wednesday night before embarking on a five-goal run to open the second half and distance themselves from the Stags (12-4). Toomey conceded that he was a little anxious about the team's energy level prior to the title game.
"I was a little concerned on Thursday when I looked to my captains on Thursday and asked, 'Do you guys want to do the shootaround like we have been doing on Fridays?' and they said, 'No, Coach. Let's just stay off our legs. We're fine,'" he recalled. "It felt like all we did was eat. We had a breakfast at nine and then came back and had lunch at 12. I said, 'You guys just got to get out of bed. I don't want you to be lumps.' The captains were right on this one. They stayed off their legs and came back and played with energy. It was hot as blue blazes out here. Probably the hottest game we've played in all year. I think they said it was 87 [degrees] at one point yesterday. The kids played awful hard for us for four quarters."