Loyola College wishes it could play its first four soccer games over, this time with Vince Moskunas.
The Greyhounds realize that what-ifs lead only to frustration, but they can't help but imagine what their record would be had Moskunas, a junior defender out of Calvert Hall, been available at the start of the season.
Heading into their own Loyola Budweiser Tournament at Curley Field this weekend, the Greyhounds are 3-4-1 overall, but 3-1 since Moskunas returned three weeks ago from an injury to his left knee. Loyola's only setback since was a 3-0 stinker at No. 13 Columbia, and the stretch includes its most significant success of the year, a 2-0 victory at George Washington.
Moskunas, the Greyhounds' stopper back since early in his freshman year, scored what would stand up as the winning goal at George Washington, heading in a corner kick from Rob Elliott. No one on the roster has more than his two goals and an assist.
"Vince was a real big influence in the GW game, which was our most consistent of the year," coach Bill Sento said. "He's excellent in the air [on head balls], and a leader on the field. Plus, he can be an intimidator, something we were missing early. He definitely fits in the Nattans, Karpovich mold."
Jeff Nattans and John Karpovich were earlier Calvert Hall products whose bruising style helped Loyola to the NCAA tournament in 1986 and '87.
Moskunas didn't immediately get on the Calvert Hall-Loyola College track. After a solid start with parish teams at Most Precious Blood and Little Flower in northeast Baltimore and helping the Baltimore Kickers to several state youth finals, he spent two years at Archbishop Curley.
He then repeated his sophomore year at Calvert Hall, where he was named a second-team All-Metro in 1987 and '88. Since 1987 he has been overshadowed by junior teammate Elliott, who set a Calvert Hall record for assists and now has 23 goals and 26 assists in a Loyola uniform.
"Rob deserves all of the publicity he's gotten; he's a superstar," Moskunas said. "I'm used to the fact that defenders don't get as much recognition. It comes with the territory."
Moskunas is 6 feet 1, 180 pounds, and although he came to the Greyhounds with an impressive physical profile, Sento said his decision-making skills needed to develop.
"As a freshman, Vince had a lot of things to learn," Sento said. "The game was a little too fast for him, and he had difficulty distributing the ball."
Moskunas was a quick study, because his freshman season concluded with him being named the Most Valuable Player in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. He was an MAAC all-star in 1990 and this year is intent on leading the Greyhounds back to the NCAA tournament.
"I wish I had been around for our first four games," Moskunas said, "because I think our record would have been better than it is. Even though we have a losing record, it's not like our season is over. We've still got some big games left."
The Greyhounds play at No. 10 Boston University Oct. 19, and get No. 12 Old Dominion and No. 18 William & Mary at Curley Field Oct. 23 and Nov. 2, respectively. Besides Columbia, Loyola also has lost to No. 4 Rutgers and George Mason, which was No. 15 in the preseason rankings.
The competition isn't quite as demanding for the 16th annual Loyola Budweiser Tournament. In Saturday's semifinals, the 1 p.m. game matches Long Island and Virginia Commonwealth, which is guided by Lincoln Phillips, the former Maryland Bays and Howard University coach. Loyola plays Fairfield at 3 p.m.
On Sunday, the consolation game will be played at 1 p.m., the championship at 3.