One semifinal of the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament on Wednesday night pits No. 3 Loyola, the regular-season champion and top seed in the tourney, against No. 9 Denver, the reigning two-time league titlist.
The two sides, however, experienced different weeks. The Greyhounds (12-1) suffered their first loss of the season with a 10-9 overtime setback to No. 8 Johns Hopkins, while the Pioneers (8-5) walloped No. 5 Duke, 15-9.
So is Denver getting a Loyola team that might be reeling from its first sign of adversity? Not according to Pioneers coach Bill Tierney.
“I don’t think you ever catch a good team like that at the right time,” he said in a conference call Monday of the four coaches participating in the conference tournament. “No matter what the result was of their game against Hopkins or our game against Duke, I don’t think that comes into play with this one. I think it’s just a matter of these two teams showing up. We know each other very well. It’s not like you’re going to start all over with your scouting report. When they come out on Wednesday afternoon and play us here, neither the Greyhounds nor the Pioneers are going to be thinking about what happened last week.”
Loyola won the first meeting between these teams, beating Denver, 12-9, on April 14. The Pioneers had not given up more than 11 goals this season prior to losing to the Greyhounds.
“We need to stop a good, powerful group,” Tierney said. “Not many score 12 goals on us, and Loyola comes at you from so many different directions. They’ve got some great players that can shoot the ball from long distance, they can get inside on you, and people don’t realize what a great defensive team they are and how well their goalie’s playing. So we’re going to have to play a near-perfect game to reverse that decision.”