Loyola's NCAA path is road well traveled

Lack of suitable field forces No. 10 Greyhounds to play in College Park

State notebook


November 23, 2001|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Imagine this scenario.

The Loyola College men's soccer team earns a first-round bye in the NCAA Division I soccer tournament with a 16-1-2 record. It is ranked No. 10 in the nation, with an 18-game unbeaten streak, and one of its wins came on the road against then-No. 12 Maryland, 1-0. The Greyhounds are appearing in their first NCAA tournament since 1993.

So naturally one would think the Greyhounds would be playing their first game in the 48-team tournament at home.


Loyola will travel to College Park on Sunday to meet the Maryland (10-8-1)-Notre Dame (12-6) winner in a second-round game at 1 p.m. at Ludwig Field. What are the chances of Loyola beating the always-strong Terps twice in the same season at Maryland?

Those are the imposing odds the Greyhounds will face if the unranked Terps get past Notre Dame tonight at 7 at Ludwig Field.


Simply because Loyola does not have a suitable natural grass field to be the host of the first two rounds. The Greyhounds could play the games at the neighboring College of Notre Dame, but that field doesn't meet the NCAA requirements for size and concession facilities.

That's why Loyola didn't even apply to be the host of the first two rounds.

That could all change in future years if the school realizes its dream of a natural grass field along Cold Spring Lane near the Jones Falls Expressway.

Loyola coach Mark Mettrick knows his team is at a disadvantage because of a lack of facilities, but he is not complaining.

"I knew this could happen," he said. "Hopefully, a lot of our fans will go to College Park Sunday to support us. I'm looking on the positive side of this. It should be a great game if we play Maryland or Notre Dame."

Loyola won the first meeting with Maryland on senior Mike Nelson's header in the opening minutes.

Meanwhile, Towson (15-4-1) will open play in the tournament tonight in Chapel Hill, N.C., with a first-round test against James Madison (12-5-1). The winner will play seventh-seeded North Carolina (16-4) in the second round on Sunday.

Unbeaten Southern Methodist (19-0-0) is the top seed in the tournament in which eight teams are seeded and 16 received first-round byes. Loyola is not seeded, but did get a first-round bye.

Bowie's Alston on a roll

Bowie State's Charles Alston is gaining more fame for his feat last Saturday of playing in a collegiate football and basketball game in the same day at two sites that are separated by 230 miles.

The NCAA Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., which is still searching to find anyone else who has accomplished such a feat, has asked for the 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end/backup basketball center's football pants and cleats and his basketball jersey.

Bowie State is sending the items to South Bend this week. Alston didn't accomplish his goal of arriving at the University of the District of Columbia one hour before the 7 p.m. basketball game.

He arrived five minutes before the basketball game and was on the floor in time for the start of the game, and came off the bench twice to grab some key rebounds in a season-opening loss.

He had much better luck in the afternoon, helping Bowie rout winless Cheyney State, 40-6, to finish the season 7-3.

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