Welcome, friends, to the first ever edition of Brownie Points, a somewhat regular column in which I will allocate “Brownie Points” to teams or individuals whom I deem deserving. Receiving Brownie Points is truly an honor of the highest level. However, I will not be afraid to revoke Brownie Points if it’s necessary.
So without further ado, the winner of the historic, inaugural Brownie Points is first-year Loyola men’s soccer player Andrew Mitchell.
If you attended the soccer games against University of Vermont or Northern Illinois University, odds are you witnessed Mitchell’s impact on the game. In the first half against Vermont, Mitchell scored Loyola’s first goal of the season. I’m not sure which is more impressive: the fact that a first-year scored in their first half of collegiate soccer, or that a defender opened Loyola’s scoring for the season.
When you combine those two, it creates a wildly impressive goal — almost worthy of Brownie Points on its own when you factor in that Loyola won 2-1.
Yet, Mitchell didn’t stop there. Against Northern Illinois Sept. 1, he showed his defensive instincts by saving a ball mere inches from Loyola’s goal. Ramblers goalkeeper Marcel Kampman stepped up a little bit, but the Huskies squeaked a ball past him. The crowd let out a sigh, assuming Loyola was about to concede a goal which would break the 0-0 tie with less than 10 minutes until halftime.
But like a flash of lightning, Mitchell came flying in and cleared the ball before it could cross the line. The crowd’s saddened sigh quickly turned to cheerful shouts, and Loyola managed to escape the game with a 1-0 victory.
There are many possessions in a soccer game that impact the final outcome of the game. Loyola head coach Neil Jones will be the first to tell you that. Yet, Mitchell’s impact has been undeniable. I’m not saying he’s the sole reason for the pair of wins, but he’s had two of the most impactful moments of the first two games.
Speaking of Jones, he’s had a reputation for having defensive-oriented teams. He’s often had strong, experienced defenders to rely upon. Last year, Grant Stoneman anchored the defense for a Loyola squad that nearly made the NCAA Tournament. Now, Stoneman is playing professionally in the United Soccer League (USL) and Jones has been forced to try to fill that gap.
This is where Andrew Mitchell comes into play. After the first pair of games, suddenly losing Stoneman doesn’t seem quite as daunting. Of course, senior defender Marius Kullman also deserves plenty of recognition. The German has been incredibly consistent and a strong, vocal leader.
With that said, there is a difference between Mitchell and Kullman. Being a senior, Kullman was expected to be Jones’ main defensive weapon and take over the reigns after Stoneman left. Coming into his first year, Mitchell was not expected to produce as much as he already has in the first two games.
It’s important to stress that it’s only been two games. It remains to be seen if he can remain as effective through the rest of the season. But lucky for Mitchell, Brownie Points doesn’t care about the future. It is entirely based on what a player or team has done lately. And lately, Mitchell has been absolutely killing it.
He’s a refreshing injection of youth and energy, and I have a feeling he’s going to continue to impress Rambler fans through the coming years.