A: The Patriot League is a great academic fit for Loyola University. We will be aligned with institutions that have similar standards for their student athletes. I have a great respect for the Patriot League teams and look forward to creating new rivalries within the conference. Having coached at and now living near Annapolis, I am especially excited about the new local rivalry with the U.S. Naval Academy.
Q: The program’s recent success has been well-documented, with five NCAA Tournament appearance in the last seven years and the 2012 Division I national championship. What has been the recipe for success?
A: First, I would say that what our recent teams have done is really build on the successful foundation that was laid by alumni and coaches that came before them. Loyola has a rich tradition in lacrosse having participated in 19 NCAA Tournaments and 3 NCAA Final Fours. The National Championship in 2012, it would never have been possible if not for everyone who came before us. That being said, I am fortunate to coach at an institution that invests resources into our teams allowing us to be successful. The Ridley Athletic Complex exemplifies the University’s commitment to our lacrosse program.
Q: What challenges does a new conference schedule create for you and your staff?
A: Certainly it has changed things, but we look forward to building these new rivalries. We were accustomed to being in the ECAC where we might have to get on a plane several times a year to go play at places like Denver, Ohio State or Air Force, but now we have conference opponents who are much closer geographically, so that will ease some of the travels we’ve had. At the same time, we took a good look at our non-conference schedule and made sure that we are playing the games that will help our strength of schedule and RPI. We’re fortunate to have some tremendous local games like Towson, Georgetown and UMBC — and add the Naval Academy to that as a Patriot League game — and we are looking forward to starting series with Virginia and Penn State this year. We were also able to continue what has become a great series and rivalry with Duke, and of course we are finishing the regular-season with our yearly game against our Charles Street neighbor Johns Hopkins.
Q: You’re a Loyola alum and have been deeply involved with the program since your days as a student-athlete. What makes Loyola such a special place to you?
A: Anyone that knows me knows that I hold Loyola very near and dear to my heart. I feel very lucky to be the head of a program that has a chance to win a national championship year in and out. Any student athlete that has spent time on our campus and had the opportunity to get to know the people that make up the Loyola community understand why this is such a special place.
Q: Seniors Joe Fletcher (First Team) and Justin Ward (Honorable Mention) were both All-Americans last year, and Fletcher was the ECAC Defensive Player of the Year. What are you looking for from them as seniors?
A: Joe Fletcher and Justin Ward are two guys who took big steps from their freshmen year to sophomore year, and they were big reasons we were able to win the National Championship in 2012. Justin had a great season in 2013 season, leading our team in scoring as well as becoming our voice on the offensive side of the field. Joe Fletcher is the best all around defenseman in college lacrosse right now. Joe and Justin have a tremendous work ethic, are dedicated and excellent students. They are guys who now will be some of the main voices in our locker room after we have graduated a large senior class. We will ask an awful lot of them, as well as seniors like Pat Laconi, Jack Runkel, Kyle Duffy. They will be our leaders on and off the field, and we’re fortunate to have high-character people like them in our program.