Familiar foe stands in way of Loyola's first conference tournament crown

Before Denver’s participation in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in 2010, there was Loyola, winner of two consecutive league championships. But the Greyhounds have never won the ECAC tournament, which has been claimed by the Pioneers in 2010 and 2011.

So No. 3 Loyola finally has a shot Friday night, meeting No. 18 Fairfield in the tournament final in Denver. It’s a rematch of last year’s tournament semifinal in which the Stags emerged with a 10-9 decision and a trip to the final.

And it’s a topic that coach Charley Toomey has no intention of reviving.

“We’re certainly not going to talk about that as much,” he said Thursday. “I think this team has been a breath of fresh air and has worried about the next opponent, and we really haven’t had to draw on past experiences. That’s the one thing I really enjoy about this group of kids. They understand that they’re playing a certain style that has given us success, and that’s going to be the key for us. We have to learn quickly from the mistakes of last night, but certainly not last year. This is a much different team than last year’s team.”

The Greyhounds (13-1) defeated Fairfield, 8-6, on April 7, but Toomey pointed out that this Stags squad is different from the one they faced. A pair of starting attackmen in sophomore Eric Warden and freshman Drew Federico have been moved to the second midfield and replaced by sophomore Alex Cramer and freshman Tristan Sperry.

One constant, however, is the presence of senior goalkeeper Charlie Cipriano, who has registered a .625 save percentage and an 8.25 goals-against average since the loss to Loyola.

“It’s going to be a different type of game, I believe,” Toomey said. “We definitely have our challenges ahead of us, but knowing that there is some familiarity with their personnel, I think that gives us a sense of knowing who they are and what they’re going to try to do to us. We can’t let their goalie get going. That’s going to be a real key for us. We can’t let Cipriano have a run and dominate the game. We’ve got to get to him early and stay on him for four quarters, and obviously, we can’t have a letdown on the defensive end in any one quarter.”

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