In its season opener, the Loyola men’s soccer team (1-0, 0-0) beat Bucknell University 4-1 at Loyola Soccer Park Aug. 26. The victory marked Head Coach Steve Bode’s first regular season win and game at the helm.
Loyola’s offense overwhelmed Bucknell the entire match, taking 17 shots while attempting 10 corner kicks. Furthermore, the Bison were unable to keep up with the Ramblers’ intensity, attempting a mere four shots and two corner kicks.
Loyola started the game by pushing the ball into Bucknell’s end of the pitch. The Ramblers created several scoring chances but couldn’t get on the scoreboard due to two offsides, fouls and Bucknell’s defensive force. In over 20 minutes of play, the Ramblers’ defense prevented Bucknell from taking a shot while their offense only took two shots on goal.
In the 25th minute, sophomore forward John Gates scored Loyola’s first goal of the season, racing past Bison defenders to boot the ball into the net. Shortly after in the 31st minute, redshirt senior midfielder Billy Hency raced to the ball after a blocked shot and quickly scored his first goal of the season, increasing Loyola’s lead to 2-0.
With five minutes left in the first half, Bucknell was awarded a penalty shot after Jameson Railey was tripped by senior defender Marc Torrellas. The Bison couldn’t chip away at the Ramblers’ lead as graduate goalkeeper Simon Jillson sprang to the post, dove to the ground and made a clutch save.
Bode said Jillson’s clutch save kept the game in Loyola’s favor.
“It’s so huge,” Bode said. “The momentum of the game, to be able to make a save like that … making it 2-1 changes the momentum. Simon in that [penalty shot] save was amazing and a relief.”
To start the second half, Loyola maintained pressure on Bucknell’s defense, taking four shots and earning four corner kicks. Meanwhile, the Ramblers prevented scoring chances by keeping the Bison away from their box, winning contested balls and executing effective tackles.
Not slowing down yet, Torrellas increased Loyola’s lead to three with a goal in the 66th minute. Just seconds later, Hency scored his second goal which lifted the Ramblers to a dominant 4-0 lead.
Mounting a late-game attack, Bucknell cut Loyola’s lead to three after Michael Dempsey scored a goal assisted by Jackson Sullivan in the 77th minute. This would be the Bison’s only goal, as Loyola held on to its commanding 4-1 lead.
“Our guys were obviously really ready to get out and play,” Bode said. “We have a team that’s really hungry and I think they showed that.”
Loyola will host No. 25 Bowling Green University Aug. 28 for the program’s annual “Hustle to Hoyne” game. Kick-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on ESPN+.