By Jordan Milewczik
Missouri soccer faced off against the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in non-conference play at Audrey J. Walton stadium. It was Missouri’s “Salute to Service” night, where the Tigers celebrated those that have served in the military.
Both teams were coming off strong performances. Missouri previously recorded its fifth straight win after playing Murray State, beating them by a final score of 2-1 following a late penalty kick goal by Madison Lewis. Loyola was coming off of a game in which they held No. 16 Wisconsin to just one goal and drew the Badgers in a 1-1 contest.
Offensively, the first half was all Missouri- they recorded seven shots- two on-goal. Loyola goalkeeper Grace Droessler stood tall in the net, making several key saves to keep Missouri scoreless. Loyola would take a more defensive approach, recording one shot in the first half.
The first score came in the 52nd minute as Lindsey Whitmore found Sarah Luebbert on a breakaway who easily netted it in the bottom left corner. After getting ahead, Missouri switched to a more conservative approach and let Loyola take over on offense.
Megan Nemec, who came into the game in the 25 minute-mark, kickstarted Loyola offense. She scored on a cross inside the six yard box from Amanda Cassidy to pull the game even in the 76th minute.
Just three minutes later, Cassidy kicked a long pass deep into Missouri territory. Tiger goalkeeper Peyton Bauman raced after the ball but Nemec got to it first, easily scoring on an empty net after passing Bauman and putting Loyola ahead 2-1.
“It wasn’t on her at that point; we gave up the opportunity and the first goal,” Missouri head coach Bryan Blitz said. “We always want our goalkeepers to be aggressive off the line.”
Loyola was able to hold off a late Missouri attack led by Sarah Luebbert, ending after a Loyola defender cleared the ball and caused Luebbert lose the ball just outside of the six yard box.
With the loss, Missouri fell to 5-1-0 on the season. This is the best start the program has seen since 2012 when they finished 14-7-1 in their first season in the Southeastern Conference. The team will finish non-conference play this weekend, facing California State Fullerton on Friday, and Northern Colorado on Sunday.
“We started off well in the second half, but then we turned off for about five to ten minutes and it bit us in the butt. We just gotta learn to put together a full 90 minutes together,” Missouri midfielder Madison Lewis said.
Loyola improves to 2-3-1 with their first road win of the season. Nemec repeated as the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week, and Droessler was awarded Defensive Player of the Week. Loyola prepares to host DePaul in the “Red Line Rivalry” on Thursday night.
“When a group believes in themselves, anything is possible,” Loyola head coach Barry Bimbi said. “I think the sky is the limit with this team if we continue to work hard and get a little better every week.”
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org