Eric Gehrig and Willie Koss, from the Loyola men's soccer team, are Men's Soccer correspondents for the HLN Blog.
It all got started by doing some open kick arounds with some of the guys that were in town. The morale of the team seemed like we were ready to go and get the season started. All the freshmen seem to integrate well and the college prep camp this summer had a lot to do with that.
Preseason went smooth starting off with some very good results in our opening fitness test. A lot of the guys came in great shape and we can tell our teammates were devoted over the summer. This was important for the team because it allowed us to focus on more tactical and technical things rather than fitness. We opened up the preseason schedule with an exhibition against the St. Joseph's Pumas at home. Although school hadn't started, we still had an impressive amount of fans out to support us which meant a lot to us. We won 3-0 with everyone getting a taste of the college soccer atmosphere.
Classes started the following day and we already could feel the student body hopping on our bandwagon. A great week of practice led to a Friday night game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We got off to a great start and went up 3-0 at halftime with three highlight reel goals. Our goalie, Peter McKeown, came up big with a phenomenal penalty kick save to keep them off the board. Final score was 4-1 and it was an overall solid performance which we needed heading into our season opener at #2 Creighton. We would like to thank IPFW and the National Soccer Festival for hosting an always enjoyable showcase. At the conclusion of preseason, the team couldn't have been happier with our training, our games, and having seven different players netting goals.
We flew out to Bromaha, Ne"brah"ska for our season opener against the #2 Creighton Bluejays. Throughout our travel we adapted the "brah"mance which will now forever stay with Loyola men's soccer. Our pregame festivities, which included a very pleasant alumni dinner at Spaghetti Works, had everyone excited for such a huge opportunity. The game was a battle with both teams having their equal share of chances on goal. An electric crowd and 110 minutes of nail-biting soccer ended in a 0-0 draw. The fans were great...especially the ones wearing maroon and gold as they made their presence known amidst the 2,700 present. We would like to thank the alumni, Mr. and Mrs. Sudyka, and the Rambler parents for putting together a sick feast that allowed us to wind down and relive a great night of soccer.
We got back Wednesday morning and knew that our home opener against Canisius Griffins on September 6 was now our new focus. Before we knew it, Sunday was here and 90 minutes later the scoreboard read Loyola-4, Canisius-0. We barraged their net with 29 shots and another shutout was secured for the Rambler defense and goalkeeper McKeown. Another epic tailgate was in store for us after the game which allowed for some quality friends and family time.
Coach Eitz has worked us hard this past week to prepare for our next task at hand: the St. Louis University Billikens. The game is going to be played at Toyota Park which is home of the Chicago Fire of the MLS. A big crowd is in store due to the hard work by the Loyola athletic department, the sport management club, and various other volunteers throughout the Chicagoland area. We couldn't be more appreciative of their efforts! This is a big game for us and we look forward to putting on a good show in front of our loyal Rambler fans.
Have a good one! Until next time, this is Eric Gehrig and Willie Koss saying, later "brahs."