On Tuesday, Denver coach Bill Tierney downplayed the increasingly popular notion that it will be difficult for No. 1 seed Loyola to beat the Pioneers for the third time this season, saying that the Greyhounds (15-1) have the weapons heading into Saturday’s NCAA tournament quarterfinal in Annapolis.
Loyola coach Charley Toomey agreed, but he slightly massaged the message about the task of trying to complete a three-game sweep of Denver (9-6).
“We don’t have to beat them three times. We have to beat them once, and that’s what our message has been,” Toomey said Thursday morning. “We’ve got to go out and be the best team on Saturday. We don’t have to be the best team two or three weeks ago. We’ve got to be the best team now and understand our matchups and not think about anything other than the next play. That’s where I really feel where this team has been different all year long. They don’t worry about things they can’t control.”
The Greyhounds won, 12-9, in the regular season and then outlasted the Pioneers, 14-13, in overtime in an Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament semifinal. Questions about Loyola’s chances of adding a third victory have swirled around campus.
“We have been hearing that all week,” junior long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff said. “All of the so-called experts seem to think that it can’t be done. We listen to it, but we’re confident in our locker room. I don’t think it really matters how often you play a team. My mantra is, the better team is going to win in every game.”
As junior short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins pointed out, there’s no room for wavering in confidence in a single-elimination tournament.
“You’ve got to come out on Saturday ready to go,” he said. “… Losing is not an option at this point. We’re just excited that we’re in this position regardless of who we’re playing. This being our third time, I think it’s interesting. The ECAC has proven itself, and I think it’ll be a great game.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times