Men's Soccer

Men’s Soccer Discusses the Importance of Veteran Leadership Within the Team

Neil Beran | The PhoenixGraduate player Giann Magno is one of the men’s soccer players making an impact in his final season with Loyola.

The Loyola men’s soccer team took on No. 11 Missouri State University Nov. 6 at Loyola Soccer Park. The Bears ended up taking a hardfought 2-1 win over the Ramblers in the last home game ever for Loyola’s senior players, who were honored after the game.

By the nature of college athletics, this will be the last season at Loyola for Giann Magno, Tyler Biggs, Tomas Dias, Ethan Stoneman and Marcel Kampman. During their time at Loyola, they helped the team win the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Championship and saw an NCAA tournament appearance the same year. 

Biggs and Stoneman were key in the 2019 MVC Championship game, which the Ramblers won over Missouri State. Biggs scored a match tying goal in the final seconds of regulation and Stoneman scored the game winning penalty kick lifting the Ramblers to the conference title. 

Neil Beran | The Phoenix Senior Ethan Stoneman (right) scored the game winning penalty kick in the 2019 MVC Championship game.

Due to the pandemic season last year, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to athletes. Kampman, Magno and Biggs all took advantage of this playing an extra season as graduate students.

According to head coach Neil Jones, the departing veterans have set an excellent example in how they carry themselves everyday, both on and off the  field. He cites their dedication to being a D1 athlete as an especially valuable example. 

“They carry forward the high standards of what we expect from our players in everyday life,” Jones said. “Those things get noticed by younger players.”

Sophomore outside back Julian Cisneros said younger members of the team are always looking up to older players. He said all of the seniors have taught him valuable lessons. 

“All the seniors are leaders in their own way,” he said. “Whether they are vocal leaders like Giann, or leaders by example by Biggs. They keep us in check and they set the standards for us.”

The veterans are helpful off the field as well. First-year midfielder John Gates explained how the seniors have helped to mentor him about managing life on and off the field, such as managing classes and stress. 

Junior midfielder Oscar Duesosaid the seniors are always there to give good advice and are helpful and approachable for the more inexperienced players.

“They aren’t going to make or force you to do something, but they will tell you why you should do something,” Dueso said. “Then you go out and do it because you know it’s the right thing to do. They know better, they know more, they have more experience.”

Cisneros cited Biggs specifically as an important mentor to his game, as they play similar positions on the field. Cisneros said Biggs was always there to give him tips, adding that he tries to model his own game after Biggs’.

Cisneros also mentioned Magno as someone on the team who was always there for him emotionally.

“Giann has always been there for me with any problems I’ve had off the field,” Cisneros said. “There was one time last year when we played Evansville, it was the worst game I’ve ever played and I was visibly upset. Giann came over to me and put his arm around me and helped pick me up.”

As a result of the impact these players have had, senior night is always an incredibly emotional game for the team, Cisneros said.

“It’s the whole team’s goal to play for the guys who’ve put in the most work and the most hours here,” Cisneros said. “It’s only right to try and give them the win, to give everything we have on that night because that’s what they’ve done for four to four and half years.”

Following the loss against Missouri State on Nov. 6, the team is now looking ahead to the MVC tournament this week. After getting a bye in the first game, as the No. 2 seed, they will play in the semi-final matchup on Nov. 12. 

Jones said getting the bye is a huge benefit from a physical standpoint. 

“I feel good,” he said. “A lot of these players have played in these games before. This is the time we have to be ready. I think we are peaking at a good time.”

Going into postseason play one thing is for certain, the seniors on the squad will be leading the team. 

“They are the most important members of the team,” Dueso said. “They came a long way to get here, they’ve put in so much effort for the team and the school. It’s thanks to them that we find ourselves in this spot.”

The Ramblers will travel to Springfield, Missouri for the MVC Tournament. For their semifinal match Nov. 12 Loyola will play the winner of the match between the third and sixth seeds, kick-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. on ESPN+.bill

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