The Loyola men’s soccer team held control for most of its season finale against the University of Evansville Nov. 4. The Ramblers had 15 shots with seven of them on target while the Purple Aces had nine shots with just one on goal, but Evansville won the game 1-0.
Loyola had possession for most of the game and ended the second half knocking on Evansville’s door with four shots in the final 10 minutes.
But the Ramblers and Purple Aces stayed tied at zero after 90 minutes and went into overtime.
Seven minutes into extra time, Evansville’s Simon Waever got a pass at the top of the penalty box and pushed a shot past Loyola goalkeeper Evan Konermann to give Evansville the 1-0 win.
The lesson the Ramblers took from the loss is the need to take advantage of the opportunities they are given, according to head coach Neil Jones.
“I thought we attacked well in the second half. We kept the ball and moved it well. [But we] didn’t create enough opportunities,” Jones said. “We defended pretty well for the most part until that last play. We didn’t really give them any opportunities. I thought we battled reasonably well, but it’s not going to be good enough to win a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) championship.”
Before the loss to Evansville, the Ramblers had won three straight MVC games — including a 2-1 victory against the MVC regular season champion Missouri State University — and were looking to carry momentum into the conference tournament.
Instead, Loyola will get a chance for revenge against Evansville when the team plays the Purple Aces again in the quarterfinal round of the tournament Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. in Peoria.
The team needs to work on two seemingly obvious things before its rematch against Evansville, according to Jones.
“[We need to work on] scoring and not giving up goals. It’s pretty simple,” Jones said.
A team clearly must score and not give up goals to win a soccer game, but the Ramblers need to fine-tune these small problems that are stopping them from reaching their potential, according to Jones.
“We had enough possession to create chances but I told the guys after the game we aren’t doing the tiny, tiny miniscule things right now — on both sides of the ball — to win games, let alone win a championship,” Jones said. “It’s not the broader macro things that we need to work on, it’s the tiny moments that we have to be better at.”
The opportunity to avenge the loss the Ramblers suffered to Evansville in their last home game on senior night is welcomed by Jones.
“Of course [it will feel good], we beat them at their place and they beat us at ours,” Jones said. “It will be a rubber match on Wednesday.”
The entire MVC tournament will take place at Bradley University in Peoria. If the Ramblers beat Evansville, they will take on No. 1 Missouri State University Nov. 10 at 3 p.m.