The Loyola men’s soccer team announced its schedule for the upcoming 2021 spring season. The Ramblers kick things off with a non-conference match on the road against Marquette University Feb. 3.
Men’s soccer isn’t typically a spring sport, but the NCAA postponed the fall season due to COVID-19. However, attempting to play soccer in Chicago during late winter and early spring has presented a different set of challenges for Loyola’s men’s and women’s teams. This includes renting an indoor practice space in Evanston and playing early season home games at an indoor facility in Loves Park — a suburb of Rockford.
The game against the Golden Eagles is one of just two non-conference opponents currently on the Ramblers’ schedule this year — they played eight before MVC play last season. Loyola will also play Northern Illinois University Feb. 14.
The game against the Huskies is one of three games currently set to be played at the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two facility in Loves Park. The Ramblers are also scheduled to play their first two Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) games there but are planning to host their final two home matches at Loyola Soccer Park.
MVC play starts on the road against Bradley University Feb. 20.
“Our entire program couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to compete this spring,” Loyola head coach Neil Jones said in the release. “The intensity of competition in The Valley is unmatched, and we look forward to having the chance to defend our title.”
The Ramblers won last year’s MVC Tournament in dramatic fashion, knocking off previously undefeated Missouri State University on penalty kicks in the championship game.
This season, Loyola is scheduled to host the Bears April 4 at Loyola Soccer Park as its second-to-last regular season game. The MVC Tournament is set for April 13-17 and will be played at campus sites, according to the release.
While Jones returns many of the pieces from last year’s squad, he’ll be forced to replace his top-two goal scorers from last season. Forward Aidan Megally, Loyola’s top goal scorer and the 2019 MVC Player of the Year, graduated, while midfielder Justin Sukow pursued a professional soccer career. Megally and Sukow combined for 19 of Loyola’s 32 goals last season.