After losing six seniors to graduation and the unexpected exit of junior forward Brody Kraussel, the Loyola men’s soccer team looks to move forward and focus on its spring season with a new assistant coach and recruits.
Kraussel, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native, will play his senior season at Marquette University after spending three seasons as a Rambler. Kraussel, a strong asset to Loyola, played in all 19 games and ranked ninth in the country for his 10 assists last season. He helped the Ramblers win their first NCAA Tournament game in program history against University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
Head coach Neil Jones said he appreciates Kraussel’s contributions to the team but remains focused on the future.
“Brody was a good player, but no one is irreplaceable,” said Jones. “While we thank him for his time, we move on.”
Kraussel, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, could not be reached for comment on his move.
In Kraussel’s absence, junior forward Elliot Collier, junior midfielder Kyle Thompson and redshirt sophomore midfielder Grant Stoneman are taking on leadership roles. Jones said all three players have been named captains for the spring season. Jones said their leadership skills on and off the field have shaped them into captains.
“Obviously, they’re all outstanding players in their own individual right, but they’re even better leaders of our team,” Jones said.
The Ramblers have much to look forward to heading into their upcoming spring season. They’re welcoming new assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Pat Flinn to their team. Flinn, hailing from the University of Chicago, will replace Nate Boyden, who has moved to the Chicago Fire Youth Academy.
“It’s going to be good for Pat to have the opportunity to develop these relationships and show the boys how much he cares about them as people and our program as a whole [throughout] the course of the spring season,” Jones said.
The Loyola men’s soccer team also announced the addition of several new recruits. Tyler Biggs, Jaylen Davila-Smith, Mike Riley and Jonathan Sanchez will join the Ramblers in the fall, while new recruit Lucas Imrie and transfer Tucker Stevenson have already joined them for their spring season.
As for now, the Loyola men’s soccer team is focused on its spring training and developing the team without Kraussel and the graduating seniors. Jones said having the same team two years in a row in college athletics is rare, so the spring games and training are crucial for the team’s development.
The team meets for training five days a week, where Jones said the team trains a little harder than it does in the fall because saving the players’ energy for games is not a concern. Jones said he sees spring training as an instrumental part of preseason training for the fall season.
The Ramblers are also looking to defend the program’s first Chicago Cup championship title. After its undefeated spring season last year, the Loyola men’s soccer team is hoping for similar success coming off of its historic fall season, which left them ranked No. 21 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25 Poll.
“We are the best team in Chicago currently, not only in the spring but [also] in the fall as well,” Jones said. “We want to continue to [keep] our crown as the best team in Chicago . . . We’re working hard every day to do that.”