Eagles dethrone Layola, 4-1
The rainy weather at the beginning of the game between AU and Loyola seemed indicative of both teams' seasons so far. Both AU and Loyola had been early favorites to compete for titles in their respective divisions, but at Saturday's game both teams got off to a lackadaisical start with a record of one win and three losses.
The Eagles looked out of sync and the first four minutes of the game were spent in the defensive zone as Naomi Daniels and Katie Daniels of Loyola mounted an aggressive attack on the left and right sidelines. This relentless attack, combined with the fact that AU defenders and midfielders could not clear the ball during the game's opening stages, led to Loyola taking a 1-0 lead.
The play started as a Loyola midfielder on the left side kicked the ball ahead of Loyola's Daniels and into the AU box. Eagle defender junior Amy Muller took control of the ball, sending it towards senior goalie Lauren Wohl. Unfortunately, Muller kicked the ball too far to the right side of Wohl and the ball trickled in as she slid to stop it.
AU played a fairly non-aggressive game with midfielders giving Loyola players plenty of time to maneuver during the game's first 20 minutes. Loyola used this to their advantage and began clogging the midfield with sideline-to-sideline passes.
Toward the end of the first half things began to change. Senior Anabel Jimenez and sophomore Simone Konig began controlling loose balls and bringing the attack into the Loyola zone. Their determination led to good plays.
In the 23rd minute freshman Christina Gonzalez fed a pass to Jimenez, who was streaking along the right side of the field. Jimenez received the ball and made an outside move toward the sideline before circling back toward the middle. She placed a pass toward the Greyhound goal that was blocked by a central defender.
The best opportunity in the first half for the Eagles came from a fluke deflection. In the 32nd minute a Loyola defender kicked the ball toward the center of the field where sophomore Marcela Ricupero deflected a pass off a Loyola player, sending the ball backwards and beyond the grasp of the unsuspecting Loyola goalkeeper before hitting the post and going out of bounds.
The second half began similar to the final moments of the first half. AU's defensive area was still suspect as Loyola continually penetrated the middle, sending dangerous balls toward the middle of the net. The score remained 1-0 before AU equalized the score in the 55th minute.
The goal occurred as the midfielders systematically worked the ball down the middle of the field, finding a streaking Jimenez burrowing down on the left flank. Jimenez passed to freshman Kristie Fontana.
Fontana's shot was saved but the ball deflected directly to Konig at the top of the box. She controlled the ball and placed the ball in the upper left-hand corner of the net.
That first goal led to two goals within seven minutes.
"After the first goal we were on fire and we flew over them," Konig said.
The next goal came from the efforts of Ricupero and Jimenez. Ricupero headed a pass from a teammate to Jimenez. Jimenez received the ball and tapped the ball to the left side of the goal away from the charging goalkeeper for the score.
"I knew it was coming in and was going to flick off Marcela's head, so I positioned myself to just take one touch and set it in," Jimenez said.
Then, three minutes later Ricupero scored the final goal. Freshman Jana Lee controlled the ball and flicked a long pass to Ricupero. She made a quick move to the right past the charging Loyola goalie and tapped the ball into the empty net for a goal.
"We kept fighting for it, and that's what was important," Ricupero said.
The Eagles host Arkansas on Friday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m.