The Loyola women’s soccer team (6-0-1) rolled past Southern Illinois University 5-0 March 28 at Loyola Soccer Park. With the win, the Ramblers secured the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular season title along with the top seed and home field advantage in the MVC tournament, which starts April 11. This Loyola’s third consecutive MVC regular season title.
Loyola head coach Barry Bimbi said he was pleased with the amount of scoring opportunities but was admittedly anxious about the possibility of clinching the regular season title.
“You’re always a little nervous when a championship is on the line, but the girls were sharp today, really had the ball moving, and created a ton of chances,” Bimbi said.
Starting off the first half, senior forward Katharine Stephens had the first big opportunity for the Ramblers at 2:49 but shot wide. The Ramblers’ quick, simple passing helped them control possession, as Southern Illinois’ defense appeared to be a step behind the ball throughout the match. This strategic passing game paid off early as Loyola sophomore midfielder Megan Nemec scored at 11:17 off a cross from sophomore midfielder Amanda Cassidy.
Nemec quickly added another goal 36 seconds later with an assist from senior midfielder Freya Glen. The Ramblers dominated possession in the first half. Senior midfielder Lindsey Harriman added another goal for Loyola at 20:11, extending the Ramblers’ lead to 3-0 to close out the half.
Coming out of the break, the Salukis made a change in net as sophomore goalkeeper Dariana Mihalache was subbed in to relieve starter sophomore Maddy Alauf. Hardiman was able to score her second goal of the game off an assist from Nemec at 49:27.
Nemec made another successful assist at 59:59, setting Cassidy up to score Loyola’s fifth goal of the game.
This is Loyola’s fifth shutout in seven games and sophomore goalkeeper Grace Droessler’s third clean sheet of the season. The Salukis have not managed to score one goal all season.
Loyola finishes its regular season against University of Evansville at Loyola Soccer Park April 3. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.