The Loyola men’s soccer team’s season came to an end after their defeat in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament. While they were initiated into the MVC this year, their performance within the conference was impressive. They ended in fifth place, better than the last place finish that most people predicted.
In addition to finishing respectably, players such as senior Reed Patterson and junior Brian Bement received extra honors for the team. Patterson made the All-Tournament Team, and Bement was named an honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Conference selection.
“Honorable mention was an honor, but now there is motivation to get better than that like an all-conference or even something bigger,” Bement said.
With seven seniors departing this year, it is up to juniors such as Bement to step up into their new leadership positions. In order to take on this new leadership role, Bement has plans on how to improve the team next year. Personally, he wants to work on his defensive shape, as that is an important part of being a forward and, as a whole, thinks the team needs to work on making things happen around the box in order to create more scoring opportunities.
First year Head Coach Neil Jones recognizes that his seniors are irreplaceable, but feels the team will be able to continue moving forward next year and in years to come. The team will be receiving three new players in January and six in the fall.
Even though the team didn’t reach all of their goals, Jones feels that they had a great deal of accomplishments and set the foundation to make the team even better in the future.
“I’ve learned that we have to be very difficult to beat. We have to be a grinding team that defends well and doesn’t make many mistakes,” Jones said.
Jones has acknowledged that the MVC is much more difficult and that most of the games are extremely fast-paced. Next year Jones wants the team to work on their identity as well as skill improvements.
“We need to keep working on being more defensively strong and offensively efficient,” he said.
Reminiscing on the season, Jones recalls his two proudest moments of the year. One was when the team played Southern Illinois University Edwardsville because he feels it was their best performance. They made it difficult for the opposing team because they only allowed five shots and won 1-0. The game was the Ramblers’ first victory in the MVC and they won it on the road. The second proudest moment of the season for Jones was senior day. The team played Central Arkansas and won 2-0, securing their place in the MVC tournament while also honoring the seniors.
For Bement, his favorite part of the season was watching the team grow and improve from the beginning to end of the year and also joining the MVC because he knows a lot of the other players and enjoyed competing against friends. Hr feels there is no reason they can’t be at the top of the conference next year.
The team’s main goal is to continue to grow and improve as well as make the NCAA tournament.