Loyola to face former players Justin Ward, Jack Runkel as opposing coaches for Georgetown

Former Loyola Maryland players Justin Ward, Jack Runkel return to Baltimore as coaches on Georgetown.

In the aftermath of Georgetown’s 9-6 loss to Towson on Feb. 22, assistant coach Justin Ward didn’t miss a beat when a reporter had trouble remembering when the Hoyas (4-3) are scheduled to visit No. 14 Loyola Maryland (4-3), Ward’s alma mater, for a midweek contest.

“March 18,” the Glen Burnie resident and Old Mill graduate said, referring to Wednesday’s game at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore at 7 p.m. “I’m through-and-through green and gray, but at the same time, this is where my heart is, right here at Georgetown. What will make it even harder is being up at Ridley and standing across the box from Coach [Charley] Toomey and all those guys we spent hours with on that field for the last four years. So it will definitely be interesting, but that will also be a little bit of motivation for us to go up there and try to steal one.”

Ward and Jack Runkel will return to their former stomping grounds as coaches for Georgetown. Ward, the Greyhounds record-holder in career assists (120) and single-season assists (53), is in charge of the Hoyas’ attack unit and man-up offense. Runkel, a three-year starting goalkeeper who went 42-7 at Loyola, is a volunteer assistant coach tasked with molding the goalies.

Both Runkel and Ward said the toughest part about graduating is moving away from the field and their teammates.

“It’s tough going from having 45 best friends that you see every day, even on Sundays, to stepping away, graduating, and not seeing them for a solid amount of time,” said Runkel, who is staying with the family of Greyhounds senior defenseman Pat Frazier in their home in Bethesda. “They’ve been really nice to me by letting me stay in their basement. All I have to do is talk to Mrs. Frazier, whose son Pat is a captain at Loyola now. We talk about how he’s doing all the time, and I talk to Pat because he comes home every once in a while.”

Toomey said he has already spotted his former players’ influence on the Georgetown, noting that the team is running similar motion sets on offense and using its defense to create offense in transition. Toomey called Ward and Runkel “sons.”

“I’m disappointed they’ll be in another shirt, but I’m happy for them,” Toomey said. “They’re starting their careers, and I couldn’t think of a better place than with [Hoyas head coach] Kevin Warne. My job hopefully is to bring them home some day. But I’m happy they’re on the sideline, and this week, I’ve been watching a lot of film on Georgetown, and I’ve seen those guys on the sideline. I think they’re going to be terrific coaches.”

The sentiments are nice, but Runkel and Ward said they want to leave Baltimore with a mark in the win column, and that’s the mindset Toomey fully expects from them.

“You play to win, and those guys are going to do everything in their power for Georgetown to win this game,” he said. “They know the way that I talk to our locker room before a game like Georgetown, and they’re going to talk about what’s being said in our locker room. But it’s a game, and we’re both going to go out and just play as well as we can. It will have nothing to do with coaches when the whistle blows. The game plan will be in place, and the players have to make plays. I guarantee that’s the message Coach Warne as well as we are going to instill in our locker rooms.”

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