Citing strength of schedule, the selection committee deemed that one loss in its last 22 games wasn't good enough to get Loyola into the NCAA soccer tournament last year. Coach Bill Sento spent last winter upgrading the Greyhounds in that department, and now wonders if a young team will be up to the challenge.
Loyola opens next Wednesday at George Mason. Its second game is against Rutgers, the 1990 NCAA runner-up and the first of several new big-name opponents, the others being Columbia, 1988 NCAA runner-up Howard and Boston University.
Among those five, all but Howard appear in the preseason rankings of the Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America. Loyola's games against Maryland -- the Sept. 11 home opener -- George Washington, Old Dominion, American and William & Mary also will boost the Greyhounds' power rating, offsetting their membership in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Sento's major concern at the moment is the health of junior forward Rob Elliott, who has been slowed by recurring back problems. Loyola is also expecting big years from defenders Vince Moskunas (like Elliott a Calvert Hall grad) and Tom Donahue. Seniors such as Chad Bennett, Mark Hopper and Sean Nolan have to step forward and take on bigger roles.
Loyola's best new faces come from areas the Greyhounds haven't recruited in the past. The first freshman Sento mentioned was Rich Aftoora, from Broadneck High in Anne Arundel County. Another top recruit is Bill Heiser, from Eleanor Roosevelt in Prince George's County. He's still recovering from offseason surgery, and might not be available for the opener.
As soon as his shoulder injury heals, Mike Konopaski will be a factor. A native of Toronto, he was a part-time starter at Clemson last year, and Sento thinks he'll be a big help in the back.
* Washington College graduate Donna White was named the state's NCAA Woman of the Year by Hanes Her Way. White's athletic ability, academic excellence and community service added up to a $5,000 donation to the women's athletic department in Chestertown.
A graduate of Overlea High, White was a Middle Atlantic Conference all-star in field hockey and lacrosse last year. A three-time Academic All-American in field hockey, she was a member of the Student Government Association and a consistent dean's list student. Next month she'll take her Fulbright Scholarship to Manchester Polytechnic Institute in England, and then continue her biology studies at Johns Hopkins.
* In another academic note, Towson State finished second in a national competition sponsored by women's gymnastic coaches. As a team, the Tigers compiled a 3.431 grade-point average last year, behind only Oregon's 3.611.
Honored by the coaches' group were May graduates Tandy Knight and Carri Scott, and Anne Sugden, who will get her degree in December. Senior Wendy Weaver and junior Janine Spezio were the others. Towson State's GPA was boosted in the spring, when five women had a perfect 4.0.
* UMBC opens its volleyball season this weekend at home in the UMBC Classic, with East Tennessee State, George Mason, Liberty and West Virginia in the round-robin field Saturday and Sunday. The Retrievers (23-15 last season) return five starters, led by Kelly O'Brien, a 5-foot-11 sophomore from Wootton High in Montgomery County.