Loyola seeking to replace two starting short-stick defensive midfielders

Graduation of Pat Laconi and Kyle Duffy a blow for Greyhounds team that thrives on transition from defense to offense

June 06, 2014|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Turnover in the midfield is bad, and Loyola Maryland is finding that out this offseason.

The Greyhounds, an aggressive team that has thrived when its short-stick defensive midfielders can run and turn defense into offense, are losing two starting short-stick defensive midfielders to graduation.

Pat Laconi led all non-long-pole players in caused turnovers with 34, scooped up 31 ground balls and recorded 11 goals and three assists. His linemate, Kyle Duffy, wasn’t as prolific in manufacturing points (1 G, 2 A), but he collected 30 ground balls and four caused turnovers.

That’s why coach Charley Toomey is understandably concerned about filling the void created by their departures.

“I think as we look at our team, that might be the toughest position to replace,” said Toomey, who also has to replace five starters in two attackmen, one midfielder, one defenseman and one goalkeeper. “Not only was Pat a lockdown short-stick, but he actually caused 34 turnovers and put the ball back in our sticks. Obviously, [junior] Mike Kutzer has seen some time down there as he was our third shorty last year. We’re going to rely on some new faces, some guys that are coming in as freshmen – maybe some of the other freshman middies who weren’t in the running for those top two spots. We’re going to have to find that filling, and we’ve been pretty fortunate to have that the last couple of years.”

The losses of Justin Ward (18 G, 53 A) and Brian Schultz (36 G, 14 A) on attack could be lessened by the presence of junior Nikko Pontrello (51 G, 12 A) and the return of sophomore Zach Herreweyers.

Herreweyers posted 19 goals and three assists in 2013, but was ruled academically ineligible for this past spring. He could fill the role of a left-handed sniper that Schultz thrived in.

“We’re excited about that,” Toomey said of Herreweyers’ return. “He’s going to be down here for summer school. I know it was a tough year for Zach, and it was for all of us. But I think sometimes you grow up pretty quickly and I think he’s excited about the opportunity to take the field on a daily basis and to help his teammates again.”

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