Loyola’s rise to the top of the rankings, a 12-0 record and being a part of the conversation for the top seed in the NCAA Tournament is a result of the laborious, on-field work of the players and coaches.
But that success can also be traced to a greater sense of accountability within the program. Coach Charley Toomey said the coaches have emphasized to the players the necessity of taking care of non lacrosse-related details to clear their minds of distractions.
“When they come down here, all they’re thinking about is lacrosse,” he said Thursday. “They’re not thinking, ‘Oh, did Coach check the class list when I wasn’t there?’ Or, ‘I missed my study hall hours. How is this going to impact me?’ Last year, we had more of those issues. … Now the kids get it. We don’t worry about that as coaches. It allows us to coach, and it’s created a tension-free environment for the players and the coaches because they’re doing all the little things that they need to do and really it’s all about lacrosse and X’s and O’s and continue to moving forward.”
The standards have also been raised in practice. Team captains J.P. Dalton, Dylan Grimm, Eric Lusby and Scott Ratliff have stressed to their teammates that practices are not a time to goof around.
“When we get to practice, it’s almost like a game,” junior midfielder Davis Butts said. “This year is different from last year due to the fact that a lot of people do care how hard you try in practice. Guys like J.P. get on everybody’s backs about going 100 percent. Every rep does count at this point because we are getting pretty close to the playoffs, and if we don’t keep the same mentality in practice, then when it comes to gametime, it’s going to be hard to switch it on. That’s what we’ve been preaching. We’ve been talking about going as hard as you can in practice so that when you get to a game, it’s going to be automatic.”