Women's Soccer

The Art of Consistency: WSOC Keeps Steady Numbers Through the Years

Steve Woltmann | Loyola AthleticsThe Loyola women's soccer team celebrates after winning its 3rd straight MVC Championship in 2021.

The Loyola women’s soccer team is no stranger to consistency. Three-time conference champions and currently in the running to win the 2021 regular season championship, the Ramblers haven’t finished with a losing record since 2016.

As the 2021 regular season approaches its end, Loyola currently holds a record of 10-2-2 and the No. 1 place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) on its quest for the “four-peat.” Head coach Barry Bimbi said he credits the consistency of the past few seasons to his players’ winning mentality and the depth of the team. 

At a glance, the 2021 Ramblers don’t look much different from the Ramblers of the past three years — competing aggressively to maintain their status as conference champions. So when it comes to overall conference records, there isn’t much that’s changed. 

In the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons, the Ramblers finished their MVC regular campaigns with 6-1-0, 7-0-0 and 6-1-1 records, respectively. Loyola’s only perfect MVC record came in 2019.

The Ramblers currently hold a 6-0-1 record in the MVC with the sole tie coming from a 0-0 draw in double overtime with Missouri State University Oct. 9 and one game left in the regular season. 

While the team is consistent in overall record, it’s also been consistently successful in smaller statistical areas as well. With a current shots on goal percentage of 0.433, the difference between the 2018-2021 percentages was a mere 0.016. 

However, there’s one more noticeable difference between this year’s team and those of previous seasons — average goals scored per game. While the averages of previous years and this year are similar, the 2021 team comes out on top. The Ramblers are currently scoring an average of 2.0 goals per game, higher than the previous two averages of 1.91 in 2020 and 1.75 in 2019. 

Bimbi said the amount of players the team can count on this year has contributed to the increase in goals scored, and that substitutions aren’t less reliable than the starters. The Ramblers have had 13 different players score goals so far this season.

Junior midfielder Amanda Cassidy also said she attributes this increase to the team’s depth this year.

“Even people off the bench are coming on and scoring our goals for us,” she said. “I think the overall chemistry on the field, the starters and substitutions, has helped us a lot.”

While the 2021 Ramblers rank similarly to teams from years past, they can be found as leading multiple aspects of the game out of the teams in the MVC. Loyola leads the conference in assists and goals with 28 each. Additionally, Loyola holds the lowest number of goals allowed this season with only nine. 

The Ramblers are also ranked the highest nationally out of any team in the MVC, checking in at No. 62 out of 342 NCAA Division I teams. 

Many of these standings are due to Loyola’s talented players. Junior forward Megan Nemec is second in the MVC in total number of goals and assists with 6 each. Senior goalie Maddie Hausmann has the lowest goals against average of the MVC with an average of 0.623. 

When it comes to all of Loyola’s players, however, Bimbi said the intensity of practice is something that keeps his team consistently playing at a high level.

“We kind of laugh when teams show videos on social media of their training sessions, it’s just not the same level of intensity that we train at,” Bimbi said. “Some of my halftime speeches this year have been, ‘You guys need to compete as hard in this game as you do in practice.’”

Not far behind Loyola in many statistical areas in the conference is Valparaiso University, closely chasing the Ramblers in total number of goals with 26 and with the same 6-0-1 conference record. Loyola will face Valparaiso — the team it defeated to win last season’s championship — in the Ramblers’ final game of the regular season. 

Senior midfielder Bailey Faulkner said the key to keeping up the team’s success against Valparaiso in the final game of the season includes coming out strong and not only scoring goals later in the game. 

Bimbi said another key to Loyola’s success is that his team focuses on being confident in its own abilities and doesn’t really change tactics or formations based on the opposing team.

“Teams change their tactics and style when they play us, especially in the league because of the success we’ve had and the quality of players that we’ve had,” he said.

The Ramblers will play their final regular season game when they host Valparaiso Oct. 28 at Loyola Soccer Park. Kick-off is set for 4 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+. 

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