The Loyola men’s soccer team (3-2) took down the Western Illinois University Leathernecks Sept. 11 in the Ramblers’ first shutout of the 2021 season. Loyola’s offense started out slow but goaltending heroics and disciplined play lit a spark, inspiring an offensive explosion of three goals.
Western Illinois controlled the pace of play for the majority of the first half, keeping possession in Loyola’s defensive zone.
However, the momentum swung permanently toward Loyola after a double save by graduate goalkeeper Marcel Kampman. This energy propelled Loyola to score a goal off a corner kick in the 36th minute from junior defender Michael Hong.
“We got off to a slow start, but the last 20 to 25 minutes of the first half we really got going,” Hong said. “It was good to get a shutout and a win going into conference play…. it was huge to get a goal going into halftime.”
The Ramblers kept up their energy when senior midfielder Billy Hency scored in the 40th minute off an assist from first-year forward John Gates. The Ramblers went into halftime beating out Western Illinois in shots 8-7 — capitalizing twice on their opportunities — while the Leathernecks were unable to convert on anything.
The second half proved to be too much to handle for Western Illinois as the visitors didn’t register a single shot during the rest of the match. Loyola had less trouble, putting in yet another goal — this time from junior midfielder Oscar Dueso off a cross from first-year defender Benni Hofmann in the 61st minute.
Players got increasingly physical in the second half, with yellow cards given to both teams. Loyola Men’s Soccer Head Coach Neil Jones applauded his team’s composure after they were fouled by Western Illinois 14 times in the second half — more than the Ramblers had all game. One of the fouls resulted in graduate midfielder Giann Magno leaving the game due to an injury, though Jones said he thinks he is “going to be fine.”
“We tell our guys to stay composed all the time. You play the game, you can’t react to things,” Jones said. “You have to be a smart soccer player. Discipline is a foundation of our program.”
Loyola ended the night outshooting Western Illinois 15-4 and heading into MVC play off a strong defensive effort in the team’s last non-conference game.
Loyola will begin MVC play when it travels to Evansville to face off against the Aces Sept. 18. Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN3.