The Loyola women’s soccer team (9-4-1, 4-0-0) continued its winning streak with a 2-0 victory over Valparaiso University on a chilly Wednesday night at Loyola Soccer Park.
Temperatures fell into the 40s as Loyola won its seventh straight match and recorded its fifth consecutive shutout — both of which set program records.
First-year goalkeeper Grace Droessler, a two-time Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Defensive Player of the Week nominee, turned in her fourth straight clean bill as she stopped Valparaiso’s only two shots on goal. Loyola remains tied for first in the MVC standings with Illinois State University while Valparaiso sits in last. Loyola is set to take on Illinois State in its next match Oct. 20 in Normal.
After the win, Loyola head coach Barry Bimbi said although his squad didn’t necessarily play to its full potential, he was impressed with how the players handled themselves throughout.
“We weren’t particularly sharp, but … we found a way,” Bimbi said. “It shows … the character and grit of the team.”
The match started off quickly with an early corner kick for the Ramblers, but slowed down within the first 15 minutes. Loyola received four corner kicks in the first half, but was unable to capitalize.
The Ramblers avoided an advance from Valparaiso as senior defender and reigning MVC Defensive Player of the Week Madison Laudeman weaved the ball back from the Loyola side. The Ramblers quickly took play across the field, allowing junior midfielder Lindsey Hardiman to score her second goal of the season in the 28th minute and give them a 1-0 lead.
Loyola took the lead into the second half and after some missed opportunities, junior forward Katharine Stephens provided some insurance in the 87th minute when she found the back of the net after an assist from senior forward Savannah Cruz.
Since Droessler only had to stop two shots on goal, Bimbi gave credit to the rest of the defense for helping keep Valparaiso’s other three shots from reaching the net.
“It starts from our forward line all the way to the back line,” Bimbi said. “And when called upon, [Droessler is] doing a great job.”
Kickoff between Loyola and Illinois State is scheduled for Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. The match will be broadcast on ESPN3.