Women's Soccer

Loyola Women’s Soccer Going Dancing After 2-0 Victory Over Illinois State

Courtesy of Missouri State AthleticsThe Loyola women's soccer team poses with the 2019 MVC Tournament trophy after defeating Illinois State Nov. 10.

The Loyola women’s soccer team (14-4-1, 7-0-0) is headed back to the NCAA Tournament after a 2-0 win over Illinois State University in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament championship Sunday afternoon in Springfield, Missouri.

The victory marked Loyola’s 12th straight — a program record. This is the first time an MVC team has repeated as regular-season and tournament champion since Illinois State in 2013 and 2014. It’s also the first time Loyola has made back-to-back NCAA Tournaments since 2006 and 2007.

“You know you have a special group when they save their best performance for the championship match,” Loyola head coach Barry Bimbi said in a statement after the match. “When the opening whistle blew, there was a focus and determination that was unmatched.”

The Ramblers outshot the Redbirds 17-5 in the game, and first-year goalkeeper Grace Droessler only had to make two saves en route to her seventh shutout of the season.

Loyola got 14 shots off in the first half and finally found the back of the net in the 40th minute when senior midfielder Sienna Cruz scored her fifth goal of the season. Cruz also tallied the game-winning goal in Loyola’s 1-0 win over Drake University in the MVC Tournament semifinal Nov. 8 and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Loyola struck again in the 55th minute when junior midfielder Lindsey Hardiman scored her third goal of the season off an assist from sophomore midfielder Abby Swanson. On the other side of the ball, the Ramblers defense held strong as Illinois State didn’t get a shot on goal in the second half.

The No. 2-seeded Redbirds came into the game off a 4-3 overtime win over No. 3 seed Missouri State University Nov. 8. They finished the regular season with a 6-1 conference record, with their only conference loss coming to Loyola 4-1 Oct. 20. 

After the match, four Ramblers — Cruz, Hardiman, Swanson and senior defender Madison Laudeman — were named to the MVC All-Tournament Team.

The NCAA Tournament is set to begin Nov. 15. The tournament field consists of 64 teams from around the country that qualify either by winning their conference tournament or getting an at-large bid. Loyola’s opponent and region will be announced during the NCAA selection show Nov. 10 at 3:30 p.m.

Last season, the Ramblers faced Florida State University in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles beat Loyola 1-0 en route to winning the tournament. 

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