Yes, there are definitely some Loyola sports teams on the rise. It would be silly to think otherwise, especially after the men’s basketball team’s run to the Final Four.
But here’s the thing, the teams might be predicted to be good,but they haven’t proven it yet.
Take the women’s soccer team, which was voted as the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason favorite. The team currently holds a 3-3-0 record and can’t seem to pull together any consistent offense or defense.
For a team that is predicted to have a good season, it’s had a bumpy start.
Of the team’s six games, only one has ended in a shutout.
The Ramblers have a 49.3 percent of shots on goal (SOG) versus shots. Compared to last year’s 57.1 percent, that’s a pretty low number.
The team is taking shots, which is good, but not enough of the shots are on goal. Drake University led the MVC last year with a SOG percentage of 54.6 percent.
Then there’s the men’s soccer team. First of all, I’m confused why the stands were full for the men’s game against Cleveland State University Aug. 27 while the women’s team struggled to fill one section against Oklahoma State University. The women’s team is supposedly better than the men’s team, yet each game I’ve attended has seen a significantly better turnout for the men.
That goes to the idea of Loyola becoming a sports school — which I wholeheartedly disagree. Loyola’s becoming a basketball school, not a sports school. People walking around campus are wearing basketball t-shirts, not Loyola Athletics t-shirts. Friends on campus ask me about the basketball team, not the other teams.
If Loyola was becoming a sports school, there would be no problem filling the stands for both the men’s and women’s soccer games and women’s volleyball games. There were almost no students in the Gentile Arena stands when Loyola played three games Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
Men’s soccer was voted to place second in the MVC, but unless it starts playing better, I don’t see that happening. The Ramblers have only played three games with only one win. The other two games were complete blowouts — a 2-0 loss against Western Michigan University Aug. 14 and a 6-1 loss against Oakland University Sept. 2.
I hope the team figures this out before conference play starts. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long season.
The women’s volleyball team has impressed me so far. I’d be lying if I said I was a volleyball expert, but the team looks good.
The Ramblers only won five matches total last year. With new head coach Amanda Berkley at the helm, the team is suddenly succeeding, going 4-2 in its first six games and winning its first tournament since 2015.
I’m curious to see how Loyola matches up in conference play. I’m not sure I believe a coaching change was the sole remedy to the team’s previous woes, but it’ll be good to see the Ramblers against familiar competition to see how they stack up.
Let’s hope the men’s basketball team lives up to everyone’s expectations. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the team to watch — and opening night is still 62 days away.