Loyola College lacrosse coach Dave Cottle says his team has improved during the past month, but has it been enough to get back into the national championship game?
The beginning of the answer may come today when the eighth seeded Greyhounds (8-3) are host to No. 9 Massachusetts in an opening-round game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I tournament at Curley Field (3 p.m.).
The Greyhounds, preseason favorites to win the championship along with Syracuse, have struggled this season, losing to Brown, Virginia and Duke. Most of Loyola's problems have come in goal, but Cottle may have solved that by inserting sophomore Kevin Anderson, a former midfielder, as goalkeeper.
Anderson, a member of the school's basketball team, had not played goalie since he was a senior at Loyola High. But he has started the past three games and has a save percentage of .744.
"We've gotten better goalkeeping, not only from Kevin, but Tim [Dunnigan, former starter] as well," said Cottle. "It's a much improved area over the last month."
Loyola's attack has elevated its game during the past month, too, with the Greyhounds beating University of Maryland Baltimore County, 17-6, Delaware, 21-8, and C.W. Post, 10-4.
Loyola is led in scoring by attackmen Kevin Beach (25 goals, 23 assists), Chris Colbeck (37, 8) and Jim Blanding (21, 24).
Massachusetts is led by attackmen Jim McAleavey (14, 35), Mark Millon (37, 12) and midfielder James Kushner (21, 7). The Minutemen have lost to No. 2 Brown, No. 5 Syracuse and Cornell this season.
In other games today involving area teams, 10th-seeded Rutgers (7-5) plays at No. 7 Maryland (3:30 p.m.) and No. 11 Towson travels to No. 6 Virginia (4 p.m.).
Towson is one of the most feared teams in the playoffs because of its unpredictability. The Tigers are led by attackmen John Blatchely (13, 36) and Mike DeSimone (29, 15).
"I've seen times where we looked like a million bucks, and other times where we looked like we just started playing the game," said Towson coach Carl Runk.