The Loyola men’s soccer team (9-5-2, 3-1-2) has seven international players on its roster, including one key piece from Australia: junior goalkeeper Josh Lagudah.
Lagudah, 23, started attending Loyola during the spring semester of 2018. Head coach Neil Jones said he hadn’t started looking at Lagudah until he received an email in November 2017.
“At the time, we had just come off a below-standard season for our program,” Jones said. “We felt like we needed to upgrade that position. We watched some film. Coaches and people that I respected and knew [from Australia] gave an evaluation of him to get a better feel for his skill set.”
After determining Lagudah was a good fit, Jones offered him a spot on the roster. Two weeks later, Lagudah was at Loyola.
“I just packed up my stuff and left,” Lagudah said. [I] came [during] the winter and it was freezing cold, coming from summer [in Australia]. Training-wise in the winter was pretty cold, a bit miserable; but, our team’s grown throughout the season and we’re excited to become good.”
Lagudah said before he came to Chicago, he was playing in various upper-level leagues in Australia. But after discovering Loyola, he said he thought it’d be a good fit for him.
“I was playing in quite a good level in Australia … a few of my friends have come to colleges in America — the facilities, the coaching staff and the pathway to go [professional] was a lot clearer than in Australia,” Lagudah said.
He said soccer pulled him in, but academics have been good too. After studying business during his time in university at Australia, Lagudah decided to switch things up and major in African Studies at Loyola.
“I thought I’d try something different,” Lagudah said. “Something I enjoy and something I don’t know much about. I’m enjoying classes and learning stuff I wouldn’t have been able to learn in Australia.”
Lagudah said he’s used to playing more rough and physical soccer in Australia compared to what he’s doing in America. He said while he used to be one of the younger players on his teams in Australia, he’s transitioning to being the oldest on Loyola’s roster.
“Coming from Australia, I’d already gone to university for a few years, so coming in I was a bit older,” Lagudah said. “I mean, I can probably give some of the younger boys a little bit of experience because I’ve played around for a few cities in Australia. I can just help them learn a bit from me and I’m learning from them.”
Coming in the spring season gave Lagudah an advantage. The team is in off season during the spring semester, so Lagudah could acclimate to Chicago life and the team’s work flow before jumping into the hard work of conference season.
Despite Lagudah being a new player on the team, junior defender Marius Kullman said that hasn’t held Lagudah back from taking a leadership role on the team. Since Lagudah is older than the other players, that gives him confidence to be a voice.
“Ever since he came in, he’s trying to be a voice on the field,” Kullman said. “He’s been an awesome leader of the back line as well so he’s a pretty important piece to our team, especially on the defensive side.”
Kullman isn’t the only one who’s noticed Lagudah’s leadership presence. Jones said because of Lagudah’s age being closer to the coaching staff’s, he’s almost like an extension of the coaching staff.
“There’s a difference of maturity levels sometimes, but in a good way.” Jones said. “He’s bringing a new level of professionalism and experience to our team and program.”
Lagudah has been a force in the goal this year for the Ramblers.
Lagudah is a nationally ranked goalkeeper. He ranks No. 7 in the NCAA with a .522 goals against average and is tied for No. 8 in shutouts with seven. His seven shutouts this season are two shy of the school record for shutouts in a single season.
His presence in the goal led the Ramblers to a 1-0 win over Missouri State University Oct. 13 — which was in first place at the time. Depending on how University of Central Arkansas does against Missouri State Nov. 3, his record could be a contributing factor to the Ramblers potentially winning the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular season title.
“Coming in talking to [Jones] he made it pretty clear that our team is expected to win the MVC tournament so I knew that was the expectation, so it’s good that we’re carrying out on that so far,” Lagudah said.
The Ramblers are scheduled to play University of Washington Nov. 1 before continuing on to the MVC Tournament Nov. 7-11 in Evansville, Indiana.