After an Oct. 26 loss took away hopes of a first-round bye, the Loyola women’s soccer team (13-6-0, 4-3-0) took on Valparaiso University at home in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament Oct. 29. After losing to the Crusaders in the regular season, the Ramblers pulled out a 2-1 victory to advance to the semifinals.
Junior forward Jenna Szczesny scored both goals on six shots, and her 14 goals lead the MVC. Senior goalkeeper Maddie Ford tallied five saves, including one on a Valparaiso penalty kick and three in the final 20 minutes of the game.
In the 71st minute, sophomore midfielder Sienna Cruz was called for her second yellow card of the game after a foul in the penalty box, which earned her a red card and an ejection. Per NCAA rules, Cruz is now ineligible for the semifinal game Nov. 3, which leaves Loyola without one of its starting midfielders.
Head coach Barry Bimbi said pressure was key to the game and while Cruz’s ejection was unexpected, he was proud of how the team handled the turn of events.
“When we got the red card, the momentum changed a bit [and] I had to move some things around,” Bimbi said. “But our girls plowed through.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to play tournament host Missouri State University in the MVC semifinals Nov. 3.