As 2019 winds down, The Phoenix takes a look back at the biggest stories of the year from the sports section.
Loyola men’s basketball head coach Porter Moser received an offer to become the head coach at St. John’s University in New York. Social media lit up about the offer, which was reported to be $2 million per year. He ultimately decided to stay and said he was “ALL IN” in a written statement. Sports Editor Nick Schultz wrote about the decision — and why Moser made the right move — shortly after the news broke.
In 2018, the Loyola men’s basketball team busted brackets across the country en route to the NCAA Final Four. In 2019, the Ramblers found themselves watching the NCAA Tournament on TV after losing to Bradley in the MVC Tournament semifinals March 9.
Loyola, which won its second straight conference title for the first time in program history, ended up losing to Creighton in the first round of the NIT.
Dane Leclair, a 2019 Loyola graduate and four-year men’s volleyball player, died Oct. 29 after falling from a parking garage in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Leclair was working as a graduate manager for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln women’s volleyball team at the time. He was pursuing his master’s degree in business administration.
After going undefeated in MVC play, the Loyola women’s soccer team knocked off Illinois State 2-0 in the MVC Tournament championship to make its second straight NCAA Tournament. It was the Ramblers’ 12th straight victory — a program record. Senior Sienna Cruz scored the first goal in the 40th minute and was named the MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player afterward. Junior Lindsey Hardiman’s goal in the 55th minute put the icing on the cake. This is the second time the Ramblers made back-to-back dances in program history.
Kyle Brown and Nick Schultz
A goal in the 89th minute and penalty kicks highlighted the Loyola men’s soccer team’s wild upset over No. 1 seed Missouri State in the MVC Tournament championship at Loyola Soccer Park. Junior midfielder Justin Sukow scored the game-tying goal off a free kick with one minute left in regulation and sophomore defender Ethan Stoneman nailed the winning penalty kick to hand Missouri State its first loss of the season. The Ramblers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.
Sophomore Anneka Murrin was the first runner to cross the finish line as the Loyola cross country team dominated the MVC Championships in Valparaiso, Indiana Nov. 6. Murrin was one of four Ramblers to finish in the top five as the Ramblers won their first ever MVC title.
By winning the race, she was named the MVC women’s cross country athlete of the year. Loyola cross country coach Alan Peterson was named MVC Coach of the Year after the race, as well.
After being picked fifth in the MVC preseason poll, the Loyola women’s volleyball team went 21-10 — its best record in 16 years — and finished second in the conference. The Ramblers had never finished higher than seventh in the MVC. After the season, first-year Addie Barnes became the first Rambler to be named MVC Freshman of the Year.
Barnes and fellow first-year Taylor Venuto were both named first team All-MVC and made the MVC All-Freshman Team, while redshirt senior Heather Kocken picked up second team All-MVC accolades.
The Loyola men’s basketball team made its Final Four run in 2018. Now, two seasons later, students say the athletics department is focusing its marketing on men’s basketball more than the other sports Loyola sponsors.