The nationally ranked No. 15 Loyola men’s soccer team is experiencing one of its best seasons in program history, with only a single loss through 12 games and an undefeated Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) record. With three MVC games left, the Ramblers are on their way to an undefeated conference record, a No. 1 overall seed in the MVC tournament and a likely at-large bid in the NCAA national tournament. Here’s how the MVC men’s soccer standings look today.
No. 1 Loyola University Chicago (11-1-1, 4-0-1)
The Ramblers have set the MVC on fire so far, with four convincing victories in the conference, highlighted by a 1-0 win over defending regular season champion Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) and a 4-0 drubbing of 2015 conference winner Drake University. Led by forwards Elliot Collier and Alec Lasinski — who have each contributed five goals — the Ramblers have solved their scoring issues from last season. The Ramblers have already surpassed last year’s team with 27 goals in 13 games, compared to the 19 goals throughout the entire 2015 campaign. Backing up the forwards is a rock-solid defense, led by redshirt sophomore Grant Stoneman and goalkeeper Andrew Chekadanov, that held opponents to seven goals in 13 games. Forward Brody Kraussel leads the team with nine assists. The team is scheduled to face Missouri State University on Oct. 22 in a tough matchup that could decide the regular season conference champion.
No. 2 Missouri State University (7-4-2, 3-1-1)
The Bears’ sole MVC loss came against SIUE on Oct. 11 in a game that ended 1-0. The Bears remain in a good position to challenge the Ramblers for the regular season crown and can jump Loyola with a win in Chicago on Oct. 22. Led by forward Emmerich Hoegg and midfielder Stuart Wilken, the Bears pose a serious threat in the conference and are hunting for an NCAA tournament bid.
No. 3 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (6-4-3, 2-1-1)
Last season’s No. 1 seed in the MVC tournament has struggled to find the same form it had one year ago. Losing to Loyola 1-0 on Sept. 24, the Cougars find themselves trying to recover with just four conference games to go. The team is led by senior defender Austin Ledbetter, who has contributed four goals from defense, and junior forward Devyn Jambga, who has contributed three goals. The Cougars are attempting to play spoiler down the stretch as they face Loyola in Edwardsville late in the season, in a bid to upset the Ramblers and end their unbeaten season in conference play.
No. 4 University of Evansville (7-6-2, 2-2-1)
Led by midfielder Ian Mcgrath with six goals and forward Jared Robinson with five goals, the Purple Aces began conference play 2-0 and started to look like an MVC dark horse. But things fell apart with back-to-back losses to Missouri State and the University of Central Arkansas. Evansville now looks to get back on track with four conference games remaining and needs some luck to climb up the rankings in time for the conference tournament.
No. 5 Drake University (4-8-1, 1-3-1)
Last season’s conference winners have struggled in their new campaign, losing 4-0 on Oct. 8 and 1-0 on Sept. 17 at the hands of Loyola, along with a loss in double overtime to SIUE. The Bulldogs are in make-or-break time. Ranked No. 7 in the conference and defensively allowing 1.69 goals per game, the Bulldogs have failed in their attempt to fill the cleats of the seniors that graduated from last year’s MVC championship team. Drake faces easier competition in the next two weeks against Evansville, Bradley and Central Arkansas and must execute in order to earn better seeding. The team is led by junior forward Steven Enna with four goals and midfielder James Wypych with three goals and four assists.
No. 6 Central Arkansas (5-7-1, 2-3-0)
The Bears find themselves sitting in second to last with their sole conference win being 2-0 over Evansville on Oct. 11. The team is led by MVC top-scorer Niklas Brodacki and has boasted a decent offense at 1.69 goals a game, but it is letting in goals (18) at almost the same rate.
No. 7 Bradley University (2-10-3, 0-4-1)
Bradley has mightily struggled this year, failing to win a single game in the conference and conceding over twice the rate it’s scoring goals (9-23). With their only point in the conference coming from a draw with SIUE, the Bears have serious problems going forward and are unlikely to solve any of them this season.