Fresh off a win at home on Sept. 8, the Loyola women’s soccer team (6-3, 1-0) headed to Iowa and beat Big-10 Conference foe University of Iowa (3-0). This season has marked high scoring games for the Ramblers, including a 9-0 win against Chicago State. While the offense has been exceptional, many players credit the defense for their success.
In nine games, the team has 31 goals on 152 shot attempts, already matching the number of goals scored in all of last season.
“We try to get everyone involved [in the play] and get numbers ahead of the ball. We tell the team: everyone defends, everyone attacks,” head coach Barry Bimbi said. “You can see that in our score line with outside backs getting goals and assists, Madison Laudeman scored a goal against Iowa State, she’s a central defender. It’s just a team mentality that everyone is attacking.”
The team didn’t always play this kind of offense. Bimbi said he recently switched how they played in order to integrate the new players.
“We went through our spring games playing the 4-4-2 system, with four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards. The girls liked it and it fit the team very well,” Bimbi said. “I think we created a ton of chances in the spring games, the goals weren’t there but the chances were there. … We worked at it, fine tuning the little aspects of the systems, and now we are reaping the rewards from that. The goals are going in and hopefully we can keep it going.”
The team generates their offense from the pressure the defense creates, and it’s working. By having a strong defense, the team is able to keep goals from going in and can focus on scoring. This year, the team has only allowed 12 goals compared to last year’s 31. While it’s still early in the season, senior forward Katie Grall said the new system seems to be working for the Ramblers.
“The coaches have really emphasized that we defend together and we attack together as a team, and I think that the whole team has fully bought into that in every game,” Grall said. “It’s just a different intensity level. Our team is able to move the ball around more, faster. The addition of some of the freshmen has really played a big role. Everybody’s just stepped up this year, so that’s been able to show offensively — with the goals all around.”
The team is unique because there’s not just a handful of goal scorers. This season, 11 players have contributed to the 31 goals. Defenders including Laudeman, Madison Kimball and Taylor Lambouris have scored goals, so it’s not just the offensive players scoring.
“The whole team [contributes], even the people on the bench, they are so energetic that it just flows out onto the field,” junior forward Jenna Szczesny said. “They are cheering and motivating you to play the best you can. The effort of everyone on the field, they’re all giving their maximum effort and you can totally tell.”
So far, the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) awarded three Ramblers with Player of the Week honors. Grall was awarded Offensive Player of the Week, junior Taylor Lambouris Defensive Player of the Week and first year Jenna Ross Newcomer of the Week.
“It’s obviously a great honor from the MVC and all. It’s exciting that there were girls represented from our team,” Grall said. “I think that our team has been doing well and we got two wins last weekend, so it was cool to get some recognition and get our team’s name out there a little more.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to play against the University of Evansville in Indiana Sept. 22.