March 12, 2010

Toomey Likes New Digs; MacDonnell Could Play

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Loyola University will unveil its $62 million, 6,000-seat lacrosse and soccer stadium Saturday when the No. 9-ranked Greyhounds host No. 10-ranked Duke in a highly anticipated men's lacrosse game at 3 p.m.

"Loyola University did this right. Some say Loyola is just a small Catholic school in Baltimore, but there's nothing small about this," head coach Charley Toomey said Friday.

The new Ridley Athletic Complex features a 6,000-seat grandstand, playing fields and the latest in modern amenities. It is constructed on a 71-acre parcel of land. The venue boasts a 15-by-30 Daktronics scoreboard featuring a video screen, allowing the university to sell custom sponsorships for the first time.

There are also three corporate suites and a plush press box.

"We know who butters our bread," Toomey joked.

About two miles from Loyola's north Baltimore campus, Ridley overlooks the city from its hilltop. The stadium was originally supposed to open in May, with Loyola hosting Johns Hopkins, but an unexpectedly mild winter of 2009 moved the project ahead of schedule.

"Hopkins in May or Duke in March," Toomey said. "Pick your poison."

Even members of Duke's contingent were impressed.

"It's great for the sport," said Blue Devils assistant coach Chris Gabrielli. "Hopefully, ADs around the country are paying attention. This is what the sport needs."

Significant rainfall is expected Saturday, but that won't dampen the spirits of either team. Both Loyola (3-1) and Duke (2-3) are looking to rebound from losses. It will be the Blue Devils' third game in a week. They dropped an overtime game last Saturday against Maryland in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic, the same event in which the Greyhounds lost to Notre Dame.

Duke then fell, 13-7, to Tobacco Road rival North Carolina on Wednesday.

Loyola could certainly use Cooper MacDonnell, its top scorer who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. MacDonnell returned to practice for the first time Friday, and Toomey said the attackman might play Saturday, but that it would be a game-time decision.

The Greyhounds are also looking for more consistent play in goal -- "Jake Hagelin has to make 13 to 15 saves for us," Toomey said -- and on faceoffs. Specialist John Schiavone is under 50 percent this season, but wing play has been a factor.

"We miss P.T. Ricci," Toomey said of the 2009 graduate who led the team with 91 ground balls. "He picked up anything in his vicinity."

Loyola's looking for more of that knack out of Taylor Ebsary.

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