Coming off an overtime loss Sept. 22, the Loyola men’s soccer team (4-3-1, 1-1-1) was left frustrated in a scoreless draw against Bradley University Wednesday night at Loyola Soccer Park.
The Ramblers were unable to capitalize on 25 shots and 19 corner kicks over the game’s 110 minutes against a Bradley team which was picked to finish fourth out of six teams in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll.
The draw completes Loyola’s short two-game homestand in which the team only grabbed one of six available points. A win is worth three points, a draw is worth one point and a loss is worth zero points. Between the missed opportunities on the field and in the standings, Loyola head coach Neil Jones said capturing a conference title will only get harder from here after his team’s struggles to open conference play.
“I said [to the team after the game] if we want to win the league we’ve gotta win every road game now cause we just dropped five points at home in the last two games,” Jones said. “We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of set pieces, a lot of corner kicks and we’ve gotta be better in the final third to create chances and score goals to win these games.”
The first half saw few scoring chances for either team. The best opportunity came in the 25th minute for the Braves when forward Gerit Wintermeyer saw his shot from inside the box saved off the line by Loyola redshirt sophomore defender Mike Riley.
Closing the half, the Ramblers picked up the pressure as they forced two saves from Bradley goalkeeper Nathan Wisbey and held a 9-5 shot advantage. Despite this, the score remained 0-0 at halftime.
In the second half, Loyola dominated the Braves, spending the majority of the 40 minutes in Bradley’s final third. The Ramblers saw chance after chance go off target as midfielders Aidan Megally and Jason Ybarra both saw promising opportunities go wide of the net.
“We just couldn’t find a goal,” said Loyola junior midfielder Justin Sukow, who got a pair of shots off in the game. “We couldn’t finish the chances we had tonight and it obviously really hurts but we’ve got to get back after it on Sunday.”
The Ramblers’ best scoring chance came in the 90th minute — the last minute of regulation — when senior forward Chase Wright saw a ball teed up perfectly for him by junior Tyler Biggs’ low cross. With the clock ticking into its final seconds, Wright saw his delivery go wide and the teams headed for sudden-death overtime.
In the overtime periods, it was more of the same domination from the Ramblers. Recording four corner kicks and four shots, Loyola was still unable to get the ball past Wisbey, who recorded his fifth save in double overtime. The game concluded after 110 minutes in a scoreless draw, as Bradley celebrated capturing a point on the road while the Ramblers were left sulking in their postgame huddle.
“I’m really disappointed we didn’t leave with three points [tonight,]” Jones said. “We’ve got another game coming up against a good Drake team and we’ve got to turn the corner a little bit and find a way to get three points.”
Loyola’s season is set to continue Sept. 29 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.