Led by a hat trick from senior Madison Kimball
, the Loyola University Chicago women's soccer team (9-6-1, 6-1-0 MVC) started fast and never looked back as it rolled to a 6-1 rout of Evansville (4-11-2, 2-4-1 MVC) this evening at Loyola Soccer Park. The win gives the Ramblers their first Missouri Valley Conference regular season title in program history.
Barry Bimbi's Thoughts…
"You never know how a team is going to come out with a chance to win a championship, and that thought went away within the first five minutes. I thought we put a ton of pressure on them. Their goalkeeper made some great saves early in the game, but we got the early goal and that's what you want in these pressure games to win a championship. I couldn't be prouder of the girls for the way they came out tonight."
How It Happened
Loyola quickly took to the attack, with Kimball and junior Aleksa Tataryn
forcing early stops out of Julia Rabe, the Purple Aces' goalkeeper. Kimball, who scored the overtime game-winner in last Sunday's victory at Missouri State, broke the deadlock in the eighth minute, directing a pass from fellow senior Jenna Szczesny
into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
Szczesny nearly made it 2-0 just five minutes after Kimball's opening tally, only to be turned away by Rabe. Loyola double its lead off of a set piece in the 24th
minute, with junior Sienna Cruz
pushing a corner kick from senior Taylor Lambouris
across the line to give the Ramblers a 2-0 lead as they raced into halftime.
Kimball found herself back in the mix again just seven minutes into the second stanza. In a play eerily similar to her first goal, Szczesny dribbled down the end line before finding an unmarked Kimball at the far post to stretch the lead to 3-0. After seeing junior goalkeeper Kate Moran
register her first stop of the day in the 54th
minute, the senior would finish off her hat trick five minutes later, heading home a Tataryn corner kick as the lead ballooned to 4-0 just in front of the hour mark.
Freshman Bella Lestina
upped the margin to 5-0 in the 71st
minute, finishing on a breakaway, before senior Eleni Carr
cleaned up the rebound off of a free kick by sophomore Freya Glen
that struck the crossbar to close out the scoring for the Maroon & Gold on the day, 6-0. Maggie Leazer spoiled the shutout with her 86th
minute goal before the referee's final whistle set off a wild celebration for the Ramblers in front of their home crowd.
Looking At The Numbers
- This evening's victory clinched Loyola's first conference title since 2008 and first outright league crown since 1998.
- The Ramblers' six goals scored are their most in a Missouri Valley Conference game in program history.
- Kimball's hat trick is the first by a Rambler since Ciara Murray netted three goals in a 7-0 victory over Chicago State back on September 23, 2016. She now has a career-high eight goals to her name this season.
- Szczesny's two assists from this evening bring her career total to 19, moving her into sole possession of third place on the program's all-time record board in the category.
- Loyola dominated this evening's matchup from the onset, finishing with an impressive 24-4 edge in shots.
Loyola will be the top seed in the upcoming Missouri Valley Conference Women's Soccer Championship, with the semifinals and championship game set to be hosted at Loyola Soccer Park, November 2-4. The Ramblers, who receive an automatic bye to the semifinals of the tournament, will face the winner of the opening-round tilt between fourth-seeded Illinois State and fifth-seeded Missouri State on Friday, November 2 at 6 p.m.