Sports

Column: Honoring National Girls and Women in Sports Day: A Look at Loyola Women’s Sports

Stephanie Miller | The PhoenixThe Loyola women's soccer team stands at midfield for the national anthem.

We’re a week removed from National Girls and Women in Sports Day, but last week when my Twitter feed was flocked with posts about the day, it made me realize something — Loyola women’s sports have been dominating this season. 

Loyola has seven women’s sports teams and each of them has found something to be proud about. For this column, I wanted to put it all in one place for everyone to get a comprehensive look on the force that is Loyola women’s sports. 

So, pick a sport and enjoy as Loyola’s women’s sports are on the up-and-up. It’s time to turn to our Rambler ladies and their successes. 

Soccer

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

Starting off the with obvious, the Loyola women’s soccer team appeared in its second consecutive NCAA tournament. The Ramblers finished 14-5-1 and won both the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular season and tournament titles. 

They also carried a lot of hardware home following the MVC awards, including eight All-MVC awards and three specialty awards. First-year forward Megan Nemec was named MVC Freshman of the Year while senior defender Madison Laudeman repeated as MVC Defensive Player of the Year. Head coach Barry Bimbi and his staff repeated as MVC Coaching Staff of the Year.

This success comes after losing in the first-round of the NCAA tournament last year and losing arguably their two best players — Jenna Szczesny and Madison Kimball. With their performance in the non-conference, I was worried, but they kicked any doubts I had into the back of the net. 

Volleyball

Stephanie Miller | Loyola Phoenix The women’s volleyball team huddles together before taking the court.

The women’s volleyball team had a record-breaking season after finishing 21-10 in the regular season — its best record in 19 years. The Ramblers also grabbed a top-two seed in the MVC Tournament. 

For the first time in program history a Loyola player won MVC Freshman of the Year when Addie Barnes took home the honor. Both Barnes and first-year Taylor Venuto were named to the MVC-All Freshman team. Redshirt senior Heather Kocken also was named to an All-MVC team, rounding out the accolades for the Ramblers.

Despite an early exit in the MVC tournament, it was quite the adventure to watch. From the very beginning, this team was breaking boundaries, and I think it’ll continue.

Cross Country 

Courtesy of Loyola Athletics The Ramblers had five of the top-7 individual performances at the MVC Championship, including the top four spots.

Capturing its first MVC title in program history, the women’s cross country team was led by sophomore Anneka Murrin. Five other runners finished in the top 10 and received All-MVC honors, earning them a spot at the NCAA Midwest Regional. 

At the regional, Kathleen Simms placed 19th and collected All-Region accolades — the fourth Rambler ever to do so. 

The women’s cross country team usually dominates, but this year felt special. Last year, Lindsey Brewis graduated, opening up the door for any woman to step into that top spot. Throughout the season, multiple women found themselves in the limelight. 

Basketball

Zack Miller | The Phoenix The Loyola women’s basketball bench reacts to a Kat Nolan three-pointer against Evansville at Gentile Arena Feb. 8.

Its season isn’t over yet, but the women’s basketball team made history with a 9-0 start to the season. Then made history again by going 8-0 on opposing team’s courts — only one other team in NCAA Division I basketball did this: University of Connecticut. 

The Ramblers currently sit in fourth in the MVC and if they keep playing the way they’re playing, they’ve got a chance at making it to Sunday of the Hoops in the Heartland Tournament. 

Track and Field

Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics Junior Mimi Reimers runs during the 2018 Loyola Lakefront Invitational at Montrose Beach.

After the most recent tournament, sophomore Claire Hengesbaugh and juniors Mimi Reimers and Tarynn Cullings currently rank third through fifth on the MVC leaderboard for the 3,000-meter best. 

Murrin and senior Rita Maurais clocked below-five-minute times for the first time in their respective careers. One of the 4×400 meter relay teams has already notched a season best.

This is just the indoor season. Outdoor season starts next week, but this team is led by a myriad of powerful women. I expect the results to keep coming. 

Golf

Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics Lorenza Martinez follows through on a swing.

Women’s golf didn’t have the best start to the fall season, only capturing a top-half finish in two of the meets in which it competed. The Ramblers ended their fall season on a high note with a second place finish at the Charles Braun Invitational. 

Led by sophomore Lorenza Martinez with a 78.1 average stroke, this team might not be the best right now, but with as many young players as they have it’s only time until the tables turn. They’ll continue to chase success in their spring season. 

Softball

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Caitlin Engelking stands in the outfield preparing for the play.

Just starting its season over the weekend the softball team is off to a 3-2 start. While the tournament didn’t go as well as they had planned, it opened the door to improvement. 

Under the tutelage of Alicia Abbott, the Ramblers are under new leadership. They’ve had a couple of rough previous seasons, but maybe the answer is women’s leadership. 

They’re due for an upswing. 

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