Underdogs to Top Ranked Hounds: Loyola Men’s Soccer fights for the Patriot League Championship

By Taylor Caldwell

Last season Loyola men’s soccer finished last in the Patriot League.  Picked to place 8th for 2016, the underdogs have managed to seize their highest conference finish since 2012, placing 2nd overall in the Patriot League.

After taking down the Holy Cross Crusaders, Saturday afternoon at the Smith Soccer Stadium, the Greyhounds increased their conference record to 6-1-2, but what has truly made the difference from last season to present?

Senior Laurin Vogel said their biggest challenge they faced was integrating such a large freshman class into the team, but “the biggest difference from last season to this season is without a doubt the quality of players.”  He explains that a talented freshman class does not explain why their season has been so successful, “We had a rough start to the season but were then able to come together as a team and start winning games.”

In addition to placing five players on the All-Patriot League Team, senior Matt Sanchez was name Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year, freshman Brian Saramago was named Rookie of the Year and Steve Nichols, only in his third season at Loyola, was voted Coach of the Year.

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From left to right: Senior Matt Sanchez, Coach Steve Nichols and Freshman Brian Saramago

Cara Connolly, a senior on the Loyola women’s soccer team, describes how significant an impact Coach Nichols has had on the team, “His ability to bring in big time recruits that wouldn’t normally choose a Patriot League soccer team has definitely strengthened the program.”  She too believes the culmination of players has improved the team chemistry, “It’s very impressive to have several freshmen come in and have such an impact, but I also think having seniors such as Matt Sanchez and Brennan Goldsmith is a great contribution to the team.”

Vogel has high expectations for their future and hopes to continue “shocking everyone with their Cinderella Story.” The Greyhounds will continue their journey towards a Patriot League Championship this weekend in the semi-final game hosted by American University.

Word Count: 321

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