Women's Soccer

Onto Greener Turf: Loyola Women’s Soccer Looks to Make an Impact in First Season as Member of the A-10

Fernando Molina Bier | The PhoenixLoyola women's soccer team was voted third in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll behind St. Louis University and the University of Dayton.

Coming off its fourth consecutive Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Championship, the Loyola women’s soccer team (5-2-2, 1-0) has started conference play in the Atlantic 10 (A-10) where it looks to face a higher level of competition. The Ramblers hit the ground running upon arrival to the conference, defeating La Salle University Sept. 18 by a score of 1-0 in the first ever A-10 game hosted by Loyola.

This year’s A-10 preseason poll — announced by the conference Aug. 11 — has the Ramblers at No. 3, not receiving any first place votes. Voted atop the conference is No. 12 Saint Louis University (SLU), garnering all first place votes but one, which went to the second place voted team, the University of Dayton.

Out of 15 teams in the conference, Loyola will only face 10 — five at home and five away. SLU will host Loyola Sept. 22 for the Ramblers’ second conference game of the season.

Loyola head coach Barry Bimbi said he believes that his team has it in them to win the conference, but recognizes SLU as the team to beat in the A-10.

“SLU right now is definitely the top dog,” Bimbi said. “It’s their conference and if we want to compete and win the league we know we’re gonna have to go through them.” 

The Billikens have established an astoundingly similar level of dominance in the A-10 to that of the Ramblers in the MVC, also being crowned champions of their conference in each of the last four seasons. However, SLU went one step ahead, winning one game in the NCAA Tournament in as many years — something Loyola has yet to do.

Just three days after their game against SLU, the Ramblers will travel to Washington, D.C. to face George Washington University Sept. 25. The Colonials are undefeated this season with a record of 3-0-5 and have already played two conference games. However, they fall below Loyola in the conference standings since they tied both games in conference play. 

On Sept. 29, the Ramblers return to Loyola Soccer Park to face Davidson College. The Wildcats were voted 14th in the A-10 preseason poll after losing all conference games last season.

Loyola will stay at home to host the University of Dayton in a highly anticipated match Oct. 2. The Flyers finished second in the 2021 A-10 regular season, losing just two games in conference play. Dayton was knocked out in the semifinals of the tournament by SLU, which eventually went on to win the title.

On Oct. 8, the Ramblers will travel to Philadelphia to face Saint Joseph’s University (SJU). The Hawks have only recorded one win so far in the regular season, with two ties in their A-10 matches.

Loyola will then fly to Richmond to face Virginia Commonwealth University Oct. 13. The Rams were one of three teams to defeat SLU last year, earning a 9-1 record to win the A-10’s regular season title. They also lost to SJU twice last year, falling to them in the regular season and in the first round of the A-10 Tournament.

Senior/Alumni Day is next for the Ramblers, as they are set to host Duquesne University Oct. 16. Despite finishing 12th last season, one of the Dukes’ two wins came against SLU. Duquesne currently sits at third in the A-10 standings, recording one win and one tie.

Loyola’s final home game of the season will come when they host the University of Massachusetts Oct. 20. Finishing fourth in the conference’s 2021 regular season, the Minutemen went on to play in the A-10 Tournament final, but fell to SLU by a score of 4-1.

To close out the season, the Ramblers will return to Virginia but this time to face the University of Richmond. The Spiders placed seventh in last year’s regular season standings, breaking even with a 5-5 record. This year, they were voted eighth in the A-10 preseason poll and are yet to win a game this season with a 0-1-1 record.

The A-10 Championship will take place in campus sites yet to be determined and are scheduled to span from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6.

Bimbi is no stranger to conference changes after moving with Loyola from the Horizon League to the MVC in 2013. He said despite facing a new conference with teams he’s never played before, his preparation remains the same.

“We prepare for opponents all the same way,” Bimbi said. “We really talk a lot about us and being true to who we are.”

Loyola will travel to St. Louis to face the Billikens Sept. 22. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on ESPN+.

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