Loyola releases its road back to Championship Weekend to defend its title.
Loyola, the defending national champion and presumed crushers of skulls next season, released their 2013 schedule yesterday. While Charley Toomey gushed about the strength of the schedule, I have this to say about it: It isn't exactly cake. There's enough juice on the slate that an undefeated run looks unlikely, but if the 'Hounds can survive it, the schedule sets up nicely for Loyola to potentially become only one of five schools -- Syracuse (1988-1990; 2008-2009), Johns Hopkins (1978-1980; 1984-1985), Princeton (1996-1998), North Carolina (1981-1982), and Cornell (1976-1977) -- to win back-to-back NCAA titles.
Let's tear this apart.
Non-Conference Bugaloo: The Meat
February 23: Maryland; March 8: @ Duke; April 27: @ Johns Hopkins
It takes a guy with brass balls big enough to be nicknamed "Sparky" to, likely, start the season in the number one spot in the polls and schedule three other teams that will -- or will eventually -- reside in the top-five. Toomey has done just that, getting only one at home (a presumed "1-2" game against the Terrapins) and getting two others on the road -- a tough trip to Durham to visit a Devils team that should have its legs under them come early-March and a violent season-ender against Johns Hopkins prior to the start of the ECAC Tournament. Those are huge RPI-boosters for games and it should set up nicely for tournament seeding come May. Also: This is akin to fighting lions with thousands of peasants screaming for your death. God speed.
Non-Conference Bugaloo: The Cheese
February 16: @ Delaware; February 19: @ Towson; February 26: UMBC; March 20: @ Georgetown
With the ECAC having eight teams -- the largest conference in Division I lacrosse -- Loyola is somewhat restricted in what it can do in its non-conference schedule. The Greyhounds didn't back off too much in filling out its slate, adding dangerous trips to Georgetown and Towson and a home date against a UMBC team that dropped Maryland last season in a mid-week brain-leaker. The hardest part for Loyola in this extraction of the schedule? The Maryland game is sandwiched between the Towson and UMBC games, all of this happening in a stretch of only seven days. Good grief.
Oddities and Such
Here are some general bullet point thoughts:
- Loyola is only playing five of its 14 games at home. Three are ECAC dates with two others -- Maryland and UMBC -- regional affairs.
- Loyola's exhibition schedule -- U.S. National Team (January 27), North Carolina (February 2) and Harvard (February 9) -- may be the toughest stretch of games it plays all season. Of course, none of those games count, so whatever.
- Starting with the North Carolina scrimmage, Loyola will play six games in February. Six!
- Loyola will play six games in March with five of those games occurring away from Ridley Athletic Complex. I wouldn't necessarily say that Loyola may suffer from some tired legs and travel fatigue as it approaches the important late-spring push, but only four games in April should give the team time to recoup as it approaches its May adventure.