Loyola has two-thirds of its attack settled with junior Mike Sawyer (31 goals and five assists) and senior Eric Lusby (20, 5 in 2010).
But the third starting position has come down to either sophomore Justin Ward or freshman Nikko Pontrello, according to coach Charley Toomey.
“We’ve got a little bit of a race there,” Toomey said. “I would say right now that Justin Ward, a sophomore from Old Mill High School, is settling into that spot. But we also have a freshman by the name of Nikko Pontrello who’s really been pushing and battling. That’s really going to be a race. That’s why we try to schedule some quality opponents for our scrimmages because we have to figure out some things and that gives us the opportunity to play both Justin and Nikko as well as [junior] Will Fredericks and [sophomore] Brian Schultz.”
Whether Ward or Pontrello emerges as the starter, he will be counted on to initiate the offense from behind the goal line in the same way that Matt Langan (15, 17) did last season.
“That’s where Nikko or Justin can become that guy that can settle us down and initiate the offense for us,” Toomey said. “We like Mike Sawyer and we like Eric Lusby’s ability to dodge, but I think they’re better when they’ve got their hands free. They really shoot the ball with some velocity. So I think having Justin or Nikko below goal line and allowing him to make some decisions is going to put our players to where their strengths are on the field.”