A consistent Loyola talent, senior midfielder Billy Hency said he returns to the men’s soccer team with high expectations for himself and the team during the 2021-2022 season.
Since 2018, the 2020-21 First Team All-West Region Selection and All-MVC Player of the Year has been one of the most prominent soccer players to wear the maroon and gold. His career for the Ramblers has been one for the books, showered in goals, assists, and awards since his first year.
Since high school, the Fenton, Missouri native has been an off-the-charts athlete. Since graduating in 2018, he holds the record for goals with 81 and assists with 51 at Rockwood Summit High School, where he was a two-time United Soccer Association All-American Selection.
Without wasting any time, Hency marked his impact on the team as a first-year. He earned a starting role on the Loyola squad for 11 of the last 12 matches of the season and scored the golden goal in Loyola’s 2-1 victory over red-line rival DePaul University Sept. 29, 2018.
During his sophomore season, he started 19 matches out of 20 and garnered Second Team All-Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Honors. For a second consecutive year, Hency posted a stellar performance against the DePaul Blue Demons in a 4-2 victory Sept. 13, 2019, finding the back of the net twice and tallying one assist.
Unfortunately, Hency’s junior season was cut short because of COVID-19. Loyola was forced to shut down all sports for the fall of 2020, but that didn’t stop him or the men’s soccer team from making a comeback. In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, Hency said he was able to remain calm and take advantage of what had become a new reality for the soccer team.
“COVID had a lot of challenges, especially the fall of last year whenever we weren’t able to play,” Hency said. “But we were still here and able to train, and I think that was a good thing because it allowed us to have an extra semester to get to know each other before we played in the spring.”
Upon his return in the spring of 2021, Hency recorded his best season yet. He was named MVC Player of the Year and Midfielder of the Year. He was also distinguished as a First Team All-MVC athlete and First-Team All-West Region by the United Soccer Coaches.
A hard worker on and off the pitch, Hency was also the fourth Rambler in program history to be named Academic All-American honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America, and in turn, an MVC Scholar-Athlete Team honoree.
Regardless of his various accolades, Hency remains humble and focused on team accomplishments.
“It [has been] an honor [to receive] the accolades that I’ve gotten, especially the MVC Player of the Year last year,” Hency said. “But I’m more interested in team goals, winning and trying to get back to the NCAA tournament.”
As a senior playing in his fourth season for Loyola, Hency has already managed to score four goals in five matches and earn an MVC Player of the Week Award. During the season opener, he yet again managed to score against rival DePaul, helping Loyola beat the Blue Demons out 2-1 Aug. 26.
In his fourth, and potentially final year of his career with the Ramblers — with the opportunity to come back because of covid eligibility — Hency looks to cement himself as a leader and role model for the rising stars of Loyola.
“It feels good having people look up to me,” Hency said. “But I have to carry all my responsibilities and teach them like I was taught whenever I was a freshman and just [learn] to get better.”
Before MVC competition began Sept. 18, Hency said his expectations for the team remained high. The team currently has a 1-0-1 record in conference play.
“We have some high expectations for ourselves because we know we [have] a lot of talent and good players,” Hency said. “We just are trying to stay healthy and fight in every single game. Hopefully we can win the conference and make it back to the [NCAA] tournament.”
For the first time since spring 2020, students and fans are allowed back in athletic events to support Loyola athletics. According to Hency, the support and motivation a crowd provides does not go unnoticed.
“We enjoy you guys’ support every game, so if you guys can make it out to games that’s awesome,” Hency said. “We love to have you out there.”
Loyola face its next opponent when the team travels to Peoria to match up against Bradley University Sept. 29. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game is set to be broadcast on ESPN+.