Through No. 13 Loyola’s first two games, the starting attack of seniors Justin Ward and Brian Schultz and junior Nikko Pontrello have accounted for nine of the team’s 25 goals and nine of 14 assists. It’s the kind of production many expected from that unit.
But the Greyhounds (1-1) have also benefited from an emerging offensive midfield. The first line of senior Matt Sawyer, sophomore Tyler Albrecht and redshirt freshman Brian Sherlock has combined for nine goals and four assists, and the second line of senior Kevin Ryan, sophomore Jeff Chase and freshman Romar Dennis has totaled six goals and one assist.
The contributions from the midfield have been a pleasant and welcomed addition to coach Charley Toomey.
“We needed some midfielders to step up due to graduation,” he said Monday. “… We’re just sharing the ball, and that’s the most important thing now. We’re not a one- or a two-headed monster. We’ve got some guys that if they play well, they’re going to get their opportunities, and we made the most of our opportunities.”
Albrecht has especially capitalized on his chances. After taking just one shot in eight games last season, he has scored five goals on seven shots and is tied with Pontrello for the team lead in goals.
“Tyler had shown us as a freshman that he was going to be a good player at this level,” Toomey said. “I think a lot of guys, what they’re doing is just playing with confidence. As much as it’s about Tyler Albrecht’s three goals, it’s certainly about Justin Ward’s four assists because he’s putting those guys in position to step down and shoot. He’s getting them the ball in good spots to be successful.”
In Saturday’s 12-11 overtime decision against No. 14 Penn State, Loyola got a much-needed lift from Chase, a Boys’ Latin graduate who has struggled with injuries during his collegiate career. Chase recorded the first hat trick of his career with the Greyhounds, and Toomey said the coaches always knew the potential was there.
“We were all happy to see Jeff get going,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for games like this, and we know he’s capable of it. But it’s one game at a time. He just happened to have some great opportunities to score over the weekend, and he’s running on a line that’s a pretty balanced line.”