Loyola Women’s Soccer Soars to Win over Ball State In Alopecia Awareness Match

The Loyola women’s soccer team took to the pitch Sunday afternoon in an out-of-conference matchup against the Ball State University Cardinals.

The Loyola women’s soccer team took to the pitch Sunday afternoon in an out-of-conference matchup against the Ball State University Cardinals where they came away with a 2-1 win. The game brought the team to 3-3 on the season after back-to-back wins.

The first goal of the game was inched across the line in the 23rd minute by fourth-year midfielder Olivia Rhodes for her first goal of the season, assisted by first-year forward Zoe Hevey. 

“It was satisfying for sure, ‘cause a lot of practice,” Rhodes said of her first goal. “I’ve been practicing that run on the backside and tryna get that perfected, and it worked out.” 

Despite Rhodes’ lone goal of the first half to put Loyola up 1-0, the Ramblers were outshot 10-2 by the opposing Cardinals who dominated much of the first half. They led both possession wise and attack wise, controlling the pace despite never getting a shot into the back of the net.

Four sensational saves by fifth-year goalkeeper Naya Lipkens and a defensive front headed by fourth-year defender Alaina Abel helped to ensure a shutout first half for the Ramblers.

The second goal of the match was scratched across in a 53rd minute goal by Ball State forward Lexi Fraley who was active all day for the Cardinals in leading the team’s  barrage on Loyola’s goal.

Despite the Cardinals early success in the second half, the Ramblers took over the game and didn’t allow another shot on goal for the remainder of the half.

The winning goal was fired into the back of the net by third-year midfielder Taylor Harrison in the 57th minute, who was assisted yet again by Hevey and third-year midfielder Jamie Cibulka. This goal started a dominant second half for the Ramblers who had six corner kicks to the Cardinals zero, as well as having five shots to Ball State’s four. 

“I think we were rushing it a little bit in the first half and kinda playing our midfielders into space and those balls were going out of bounds or going out for goal kicks,” Bimbi said. “We don’t need to play so quickly, the pace needs to be high but let’s roll it out to their feet and let’s keep possession.”

Sunday’s win over Ball State marks the second win in a row for the Ramblers who have taken three out of the last four and currently sit at .500 with a 3-3 record. 

“You hope it builds a bit of confidence moving forward,” Bimbi said. “Hopefully getting a couple goals today leading into a very, very tough Wisconsin team on Thursday night will give us the confidence that hopefully we’ll compete and bring the right mentality.”

Despite the Ramblers win Sunday afternoon, the biggest story was Loyola hosting Alopecia Awareness day in honor of Abel, who came public with her diagnosis in March of this year.

The crowd was filled Sunday with fans wearing Abel jerseys and multiple children with alopecia themselves who got to meet Abel after the game. In support of their teammate, the Loyola players had blue ribbons in their hair — the color representing alopecia awareness. 

Bimbi stated the importance of what today symbolized as a whole rather than just the match itself.

“Today was bigger than soccer,” Bimbi said. “It was about raising awareness for alopecia with Alaina.”

The Loyola women’s soccer team will take on the University of Wisconsin Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. before taking on local rival DePaul University Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.

Featured image by Aidan Cahill | The Phoenix

Nate Varda

Nate Varda