Men’s Soccer Team Had United Goal

Greyhounds host NCAA second round game

By Magazine Staff  |  Photo courtesy of Jordan Bishop, Loyola Athletic Communications

You win some…you win some more.

Two months into the season, the men’s soccer team still hadn’t lost a game. But the players didn’t consider an undefeated season a possibility until they emerged victorious from a challenging weekend against Iona and Fairfield at the end of October.

“When we came through and won both those games, we knew at that point it was realistic,” said Head Coach Mark Mettrick.

Realistic—and historic.

As the Greyhounds finished the regular season without falling to a single opponent, the team became Loyola’s first since 1986 to achieve an undefeated regular season. And the team made history beyond Baltimore, earning national attention by charging through a streak of 27 undefeated games to hold the best record in the country.

“Every team looked at us like a target on their schedule,” said co-captain Josh Taylor, ’09. “Everyone wanted to be the one to knock us off.”

Although post-season losses in two close games kept the Greyhounds (18-2-1) from winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship or moving to the third round of the NCAA tournament, the Greyhounds’ regular season play set Loyola’s reputation as the team to beat this year—and raised the profile of the program.

Loyola soccer has a strong tradition. The Greyhounds have gone to the NCAA Division I tournament six times. The 2007 team finished with a 19-3-1 record, which—with the 2008 season—combines for the winningest two-year stretch in the history of men’s soccer at Loyola.

Although the 2007 team was never ranked as one of the nation’s top 25 teams, the 2008 team not only broke into the national Top Ten, but stayed there for six consecutive weeks, rising as high as No. 6. The 2008 team finished the season second in the country for scoring, with the defense giving up the 15th fewest goals in the country.

“This year we did well in both offense and defense. We’ve been able to get both to click together,” said co-captain Tennant McVea, ’10. “I don’t even like to think of it as offense and defense. It’s really a team.”

The team’s undefeated streak ended during its first post-season game against Fairfield Nov. 16. Then, in the second round of the NCAA tournament, University of North Carolina Greensboro scored in sudden victory overtime, ending the Greyhounds’ chance at an NCAA championship. “The heartbreaking part is that we had the game by the scruff of the neck, but we lost it,” said Mettrick, who—in his nine-year Loyola career—has led teams to seven conference titles and three tournament championships.

The team is losing two players to graduation—Taylor and goalkeeper Milos Kocic—but Mettrick is optimistic about the 2009 season. “We’ve got a lot of momentum,” he said. “The challenge is to keep the attitude and mentality right and continue to grow.”

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