While junior midfielder Aidan Megally is in the midst of a solid season, he’s becoming more selfless — something head coach Neil Jones said shows how much he’s grown during his time at Loyola.
Megally, 20, said he’s motivated by his teammates telling him he did well after a good game. Now an upperclassman, Jones said Megally needs to be more of a leader than a follower on the pitch.
“He’s improved his voice on the field, which is something that we asked of him coming out of his sophomore year,” Jones said.
Megally has played 651 minutes in Loyola’s seven games so far this season. Jones said Megally’s assets include his playing technique, his overall understanding of soccer and his knowledge of where he needs to be on the field at different times.
“He’s a very important and integral part of our central midfield,” Jones said. “He’s good in the air in terms of winning aerial headball battles for us … when the ball’s passed to him, we feel confident that he’s going to make the right play.”
Megally doesn’t just have experience with the upperclassmen, but also with first-years Ethan Stoneman and Jared Sparacino. The duo played with Megally on Sockers FC, the Chicago club team he played for before coming to Loyola. Megally said he played with them from the time he was seven years old until his senior year of high school.
During his high school years, Jones started recruiting Megally and since he already liked Loyola, Megally said it was an easy decision. Since coming to Loyola, Megally said he’s improved his skills a lot, especially due to the influence of the older players.
He said one thing that helped him improve upon coming to Loyola was the opportunity to get playing time as a first-year.
Sophomore midfielder Giann Magno, originally from England, said Megally helped him during his transition from England to America — which he said was a testament to Megally’s character.
“Coming in as an international player was obviously quite daunting,” Magno said. “[Aidan] was a sophomore when I came in, [he] helped me a lot.”
Magno also said Megally and his family even reached out and invited him over for Easter last year. Magno said Megally is someone who’s always making everyone laugh and he’s a nice person to be around.
As far as their relationship on the pitch, Magno said he trusts that when he passes the ball to Megally, he’ll start moving it up the field. Magno also plays as a more defensive player while Megally is more on the offensive side.
Looking ahead, Megally said he’s focused on his team and what results he can put out for them.
“My goal is to give a good performance every single game and help our team win,” Megally said. “[To] win our conference and go to the NCAA — [to] become a better group of guys on and off the field.”
Jones said he wants to see Megally score more goals for the team this season and to hopefully play higher up on the field. He said they’d like to have him score at least five goals and keep adding to the team’s offense. Megally has scored one of the Ramblers’ six goals this season and has a shot on goal percentage of 16.7 percent.
Looking ahead to next year, Jones said Megally will continue to be a key player as Stephenson and Lifka, two senior midfielders, graduate. As for playing past college, Megally said he could continue to play, but for now is focusing on developing more at Loyola.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Megally said about a possible professional career. “Right now I’m just focused on finishing my two years as best as I can.”
Megally and the Ramblers are set to take on Bradley University in Peoria Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.