The National Collegiate Athletic Association finished Loyola College's soccer season at 16-2-5 yesterday when it passed over the Greyhounds in selecting teams for the 28-team championship tournament.
In the end, Loyola's place in the weak Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference cost the conference-champion Greyhounds a bid. Aside from Loyola, only La Salle (11-9-1) had a winning record among nine teams.
Loyola rolled through eight league games and two tournament games with a goals margin of 61-1.
Against NCAA tournament teams, the Greyhounds were 1-1-1, beating Illinois State, losing at St. Louis and tying George Mason.
Asked why Loyola didn't make it, committee member Dave Sarachan said: "In looking at the teams, we were interested in how they did head-to-head with rated teams that were already in, and that was not substantial. And their strength of schedule was a big concern.
"Overall, we selected two teams from each of eight regions and the others went in a pool, and we went back and compared records and strength of schedules."
The committee included the top 20 in the last poll, plus four others who earned automatic bids with conference championships. Of the remaining four -- Brooklyn College, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and San Diego -- only Brooklyn (14-2-2) was suspect because of what appeared to be a weak schedule.
In its South Atlantic region, where five schools were chosen each of the past two years, only three were taken this time -- Virginia, George Mason and Richmond, which defeated George Mason, 1-0, for the Colonial Athletic Association title.
In the Atlantic Coast Conference, where two teams were nationally ranked and two others were among teams getting votes, five ACC teams made the tournament field.
"I'm frustrated by the whole thing, especially for the players," Loyola coach Bill Sento said after watching a satellite telecast of the proceedings. "Where do we go from here? We are locked into MAAC games and regional games, and I don't know how we could have had a stronger outside schedule. I thought this was the best schedule, the most competitive, since I've been here.
"The schedule included six teams which were in the tournament last year, but did not fare as well this year. I don't know what more we are supposed to do. What are you going to do, worry about how everybody else is going to do ahead of time, in addition to your own team?"
Loyola usually must bend to the schedule needs of stronger teams. "That's why our September schedule is so strong," Sento said. "It's by necessity [of playing top-caliber teams], not design."