In the Ramblers’ second consecutive match decided in overtime, the Loyola men’s soccer team (4-2-1, 1-0-1) pulled off a 2-1 win against Drake University at Loyola Soccer Park Sept. 25. This victory on Loyola’s Alumni Night gave the Ramblers their first Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) win of the fall 2021 season.
Despite regular time ending in a tie game, the Ramblers kept the ball in Drake’s zone for the majority of the contest and eventually finished the game on a set play goal by sophomore defender Lukas Ender, marking his first-ever collegiate goal.
Early in the first half, both teams pressed the attack deep into their opponents’ end of the field, but weren’t able to take many shots. However, the offensive advantage shifted more and more towards Loyola, who had a couple quality chances in the 33rd minute.
After several wide shots, the Ramblers converted on a corner kick goal by senior forward Fabian Becerra in the 20th minute assisted by first-year defender Benni Hofmann. This gave the Ramblers a 1-0 lead that they carried nearly to the end of regulation.
To start the second half, Drake came out strong and continued to match the Ramblers’ pressure throughout the remainder of the game. For every chance Loyola got, the Bulldogs came roaring back. This eventually paid off for the visitors in the 82nd minute as they scored a goal off a corner, sending the game to extra time.
The extra minutes started out with a potential injury for Loyola as Hofmann took an elbow to the head trying to play a ball. However, after the game, Jones said that the medical team had cleared him to return.
That score came in the 96th minute when Ender headed in a goal after a free kick from Hofmann, marking his first goal as a Rambler and giving his team its first MVC win after a draw with Evansville University Sept. 18.
The Ramblers’ main source of offensive success throughout the game were stretch passes that resulted in shots, with many hitting crossbars or going wide. By the end of the game, the Ramblers ended up outshooting the Bulldogs 14-8.
Loyola head coach Neil Jones said accuracy in these moments will be important going forward.
“We have got to be better in the final third,” Jones said. “I think a few guys were a little off in front of the net.”
Although Ender was the player to score the golden goal and send the Ramblers to victory, he credited his teammates with helping him score his first collegiate goal.
“We worked so hard for 90 minutes.” said Ender. “I’m really proud of the team and myself.”
Loyola will travel to Peoria to play Bradley University Sept. 29 for its next MVC matchup. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+.