Men's Soccer

Loyola Can’t Hold On Against Northwestern, Takes First Loss of 2021 Season

Emily Burdett | The PhoenixLoyola first-year John Gates keeps an eye on the ball during the annual Hustle to Hoyne game Sept. 3.

The Loyola men’s soccer team (2-1 as of Sept. 3) failed to score in a tightly-contested match against Northwestern University, defeating the Ramblers by a score of 1-0 in a fast-paced match during this year’s Hustle to Hoyne event.

A tradition since 2015, Hustle to Hoyne begins with a pep rally on Loyola’s Lake Shore campus and includes a walk down W. Devon Ave. to Loyola Soccer Park to watch the Ramblers play. This year’s Hustle to Hoyne event saw hundreds of students in attendance after a pandemic-altered year without college sports in the fall.

Unfortunately for the Ramblers, the home field advantage wasn’t enough to outscore Northwestern University.

“Credit to Northwestern,” Loyola head coach Neil Jones said. “They had a good game plan and fought really hard tonight. While we’re disappointed with the result, the atmosphere tonight was great for both teams, Chicago soccer and college soccer. We appreciate the community, the students and all the fans for coming out to support us tonight.”

Loyola entered the game hot on offense with a pair of contests by first-year forward John Gates in the first 20 minutes of the game and accumulated five shots in the first half.

The Ramblers’ offense was complemented in the first half by their solid and consistent defense. They were able to contain Northwestern to a mere two shots, none of which were on target.

During the 40th minute, redshirt junior midfielder Alex Alfaro saw a cross from senior midfielder Billy Hency which could’ve ended in a goal, but Northwestern goalkeeper Miha Miskovic denied the possibility, sending the game into halftime scoreless.

Emily Burdett | The Phoenix Loyola’s Julian Cisneros attempts to outrun Northwestern during at the Hustle to Hoyne match Sept. 3.

Loyola came back into the game aggressively as junior defender Mac Torrellas delivered Billy Hency a beautiful cross which he headed toward the goal, but was saved yet again by Miskovic. Loyola’s high paced, cross-reliant offense was different from last season’s one-touch, patient offense around the goalie.

“We got a little bit of a different formation going on,” Jones said. “We were just a little off tonight. Our players who are usually in rhythm and playing really well just didn’t play up to their level tonight. We feel we have the players in the attacking half of the field to play like a high tempo, high standard play, but tonight didn’t work.”

As the final minutes of the game approached, Rambler graduate goalkeeper Marcel Kapman saw his first action in the game as Northwestern boosted its offense. With just under 20 minutes left, Northwestern turned a cross into a header and sent the ball flying past Loyola’s goal line, scoring the only goal of the match.

A few minutes after the goal, the Ramblers nearly found the equalizer but sophomore defender Lukas Ender’s header just missed the goal and hit the left post instead.

Even though the Ramblers finished with 12 shots compared to the visitors’ seven, Northwestern was able to capitalize on its opportunities better, giving them the sole goal in a tightly-contested affair.

“We have a good team but we have to get better,” Jones said. “Little details at this level can win and lose you games.”

After suffering a 2-1 loss on the road against University of Michigan, Loyola will close out non-conference play when it hosts Western Illinois University at Loyola Soccer Park Sept. 11. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN3.

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