(Photo Courtesy of Loyola Athletics)
2020 marked the beginning of the post Pat Spencer era for Loyola. And many were asking how this program would look and move forward, particularly on the offensive end. Well, in the eyes of many, the Greyhounds were still one of the best teams in the Patriot League but they did take one too many steps back then originally expected. However, that one too many steps back was only seen on one end of the field: offense.
Sitting at 4-2 when the 2020 season was cancelled, Loyola was tied at 45th in the nation in scoring offense (11.50 GPG) and 7th in scoring defense, allowing 8.76 goals per game. In 2019, the Greyhounds had the eight best scoring offense (14.06 GPG) and the 24th-best scoring defense, allowing 10.65 goals per game.
While it is important to not that 2020 was a shortened season, weren’t even on track to hit either of those numbers from 2019. And for the Loyola faithful, that’s got to be both tough and good to hear at the same time. On one hand, the defense looked solid from front to back for the first time in years, but the offense, which was fairly young, didn’t look all that great.
Coming into 2021, the Greyhounds will be considered one of the top teams in the Patriot League once again. And with, at least, part of a season under many of these young guys’ belts without a Tewarraton winner on the field, things look like they could go much, much smoother on both ends.
Offensively, Loyola will return their top five scorers from a year ago, including their three top attackmen in senior Aidan Olmstead (11G/11A), senior Kevin Lindley (19G/1A), and sophomore Joey Kamish (8G/3A). Additionally, the Greyhounds will have their entire starting midfield unit back, as Peter Swindell (9G/7A) will be back for a fifth season and Adam Poitras (5G/7A) and Dan Wigley (2G/1A) will return for their sophomore and junior seasons.
Returning, literally, every single starter on offense, as well as multiple role players, is huge for this group. After having a year together under their belt and showing some real flashes of greatness, this offense has some serious potential to start strong out of the gate.
Sam Shafer looks to be the solid anchor for this Greyhounds defense after being a first time starter last season. The goalie started all six games and posted a 57% save percentage.
Out in front of the cage, senior Kyle LeBlanc (5GB/3CT) and junior Cam Wyers (5GB/5CT) are the top two close defenseman returning. Both started all six games last season, with LeBlanc being a first time starter as a junior. Grad student John Railey will also be back after suffering and injury and being limited to just one game, in which he started, last season. He started 11 of 17 contest in 2019 after missing his first two seasons of play with injury. He will be looking to comeback strong and help contribute to this defense, as he shown he can.
In addition to their close defense unit, Loyola will have a very strong defensive uint at the midfield. LSM Ryan McNulty will be back for a fifth season following another strong season in 2020, where he recorded 11 caused turnovers and 23 ground balls. The Greyhounds’ top short-stick defensive midfielder in junior Payton Rezanka (1GB/7CT) will look to put together another strong campaign and be a leader of that SSDM unit.
Bailey Savio should have another stellar season at the faceoff dot, which will give this offense more extra possessions and can set a tone on both ends of the field. Savio went 90-for-131 (69%) at the dot last season and ranked as a top-five faceoff man in the nation.