Junior goalkeeper Kate Moran was the defensive backbone for the Loyola women’s soccer team on its journey to the top of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).
The Ramblers currently have a 9-6-1 overall record, and have the eighth most saves in the MVC at 60. Moran said the defense is tough to score on because the players can adapt to any situation and build off each others’ strengths.
“It’s really important to keep the defense organized,” Moran, 20, said. “Communication is huge especially when we have new [first-years] playing. We’ve really been switching up the lineup, so it’s important to keep everything organized.”
Moran said communication on the defensive end has led to Loyola having the fourth best goals against average in the MVC at 1.16. Head coach Barry Bimbi praised Moran’s leadership and her ability to provide a veteran presence on a team that welcomed six first-years this season.
“[Moran] does a really good job communicating with the back line and organizing them,” Bimbi said. “She’s really built the confidence in her back line. If something does break down she’s there.”
Goalkeeper coach Katie Berkopec said Moran, a biology major, is different from other goalkeepers she’s coached because of her work ethic and ability to improve on a daily basis.
“[Moran’s] confidence and ability to lead the players in front of her [sets her apart],” Berkopec said. “I think she really embraced [being a leader] and has worked hard in that area.”
Senior defender Taylor Lambouris said Moran’s ability to communicate with her defense makes her a special teammate.She said Moran always made her presence known and Moran’s stability was the key to only allowing 19 goals throughout the season — which ranks third in the MVC in goals allowed.
“[Moran] is our rock back there,” Lambouris said. “She’s very loud and supportive.”
Lambouris has played with other goalkeepers throughout her soccer career but said Moran stands out due to her talent and ability to contribute to the team’s success both on and off the field.
“I feel like we communicate well,” Lambouris said. “If something is wrong she’ll always say it in a very positive way.”
In Loyola’s most recent game against the University of Evansville, Moran had two saves as the Ramblers clinched the first seed in the (MVC) with a 6-1 victory. Bimbi said Moran has developed into a focal point for the defense and has played a huge role in Loyola’s five shutouts — which puts them at third in the MVC in shutouts.
“It usually takes something special or a breakdown to beat her,” Bimbi said. “That’s what you ask from a goalkeeper: dependability and reliability in the back. That way, if something does go wrong, she’s going to make the save.”
Berkopec said Moran worked hard over the offseason to make the next step toward becoming the conference’s best goalkeeper.
“Every day, just focusing on the little things with [Moran], it’s making one more save in practice than she did the day before,” Berkopec said. “You can always look at the stats. And you can always say well let’s improve your goal against average, but that’s also something where numbers can kind of tell the truth; but it doesn’t tell the truth about how hard she’s working.”
Despite all the praise Moran has received for her leadership and work ethic, she said she refuses to let it go to her head and continues to take things one game at a time.
“I think we’re just improving every game. Our defense just keeps getting better and all of the defenders have done a great job,” Moran said. “The team as a whole has gotten better each game, we’ve kind of gelled together as the season went on.”
Moran and the Ramblers are scheduled to play in the MVC tournament semifinals against Illinois State Nov. 2 at Loyola Soccer Park.