The Loyola women’s soccer team (2-2-1) fell to No. 19 Xavier University Sept. 1 at Loyola Soccer Park 1-0. The Musketeers escaped with the win, as Chloe Netzel scored the only goal of the match with 59 seconds left.
The Ramblers’ previous game against a ranked opponent took place Aug. 25, when they traveled to Madison to face the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers. The game resulted in a 1-1 tie after senior midfielder Amanda Cassidy came up with the late-game equalizer to give Loyola its first tie of the season.
Xavier kicked the game off by turning the ball over deep into Loyola territory, applying pressure by pushing its offense into the opposing side of the field. The Musketeers’ strategy proved to be efficient, as the Ramblers were unable to gain possession of the ball in opposing territory until after the five-minute mark.
In the seventh minute of the game, a foul by graduate midfielder Abby Swanson set up a free kick for Xavier outside the box. Midfielder Ella Rogers stepped up to the ball and sent a promising cross towards the left, which struck just wide off the post.
The Musketeers continued to show their suffocating offensive pressure, but despite its multiple attempts, Loyola’s graduate goalkeeper Naya Lipkens recorded two saves within the first 16 minutes to keep the match tied — including a diving grab to neutralize a powerful strike.
After 26 minutes, a Loyola corner kick gave the Ramblers a few minutes of strong offensive possession. After a Xavier clearance, Loyola pushed back and kept the ball in the opposition’s side of the field. Swanson then found the ball in the box, shot it towards the lower left corner of the goal but was deflected by the Musketeers’ defense.
Xavier continued to dominate the game for the rest of the half, retaining possession of the ball and creating shot opportunities on offense. By halftime, Loyola was held to just one attempted shot compared to the Musketeers’ five.
The Ramblers came into the second half looking more competitive, as ball possession fluctuated at a steadier pace between both teams. Loyola increased their pressure on offense and obtained two consecutive corner kicks within the first eight minutes of the second half but was unable to capitalize on them.
In the 57th minute, Xavier’s offense appeared to be regaining dominance as it shared touches inside Loyola’s box while the Ramblers’ defense seemed to break down. However, Loyola was able to keep the game scoreless and block the shot after a missed volley.
The Musketeers’ offense wasn’t slowing down, gaining momentum on the creation of several opportunities, including a free kick at the edge of the box that was blasted into the barrier and off to an unsuccessful corner kick. Minutes after, a Xavier cross found an open Molly McLaughlin in the box, who headed the ball just inches over the crossbar for Xavier’s 12th shot of the game.
Lipkens continued her heroics, coming up with a dramatic save and starting a counter-attack that would spark Loyola’s offense once again. Seconds later, junior midfielder Madeleine Barone got Rambler fans up from their seats, cheering for what they thought was a goal, just to realize the ball had sailed just inches over the crossbar.
With four minutes to go in the game, Lipkens showed up again, saving another shot from point blank range to the lower left corner of the goal. After six saves, the clean sheet came to an end in the last minute of the game. With 59 seconds left in the match, a pass by McLaughlin set up Netzel to kick the ball straight into the lower right corner of the goal.
After the match, Loyola head coach Barry Bimbi had high praise for Lipkens and his defense.
“The back four and Naya were great tonight,” Bimbi said. “[Naya] came up tonight, she’s an experienced goalkeeper and she’s seen Xavier before being in the Big East, so she was confident going in.”
As the match came to an end, Loyola attempted a mere three shots — none on goal — compared to Xavier’s 16. Despite Lipken’s six saves, Xavier’s superior shot creation and high-pressure offense helped them take the win on the road.
Bimbi also addressed the last minute goal and said his team has some improvements to make.
“I think we battled the whole game,” Bimbi said. “It’s obviously disappointing to give up a goal so late…If we wound up with zero shots on the goal from those dangerous situations, we have to get better in those areas.”
The Ramblers will travel to Macomb, Ill. Sept. 4 to face Western Illinois University. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on Twitter Live.