Girls Soccer: New Loyola crew creates successful chemistry
Glenview Friday, 5/18/12 Whitney Young goal keeper, Adaobi Ekwueme collides with Loyola Academy's Meeghan Smith (7) during the second half of Friday's game. Loyola Academy won the Regional game, 2-0. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 11:56AM
Loyola sustained only two losses in two seasons, but they couldn’t have come at more inopportune times.
For the second straight season, the Ramblers ended their season with a heartbreaking 1-0 shutout.
After losing 10 seniors to graduation, Loyola was not expecting to come anywhere close to its 24-1-3 mark of 2011, but head coach Craig Snower knew he would have some talent to fill the vacated spots.
Senior striker Meeghan Smith and the other returning varsity players were unaware of how the team chemistry would develop following the turnover, but in the end, it didn’t seem to cause problems.
“With a bunch of new girls coming on to the team, we didn’t really know how each other played,” said Smith. “Somehow, we were able to really get to know each other, get to know how we played and bring together a team.”
In the 103rd minute, sophomore striker Maddie Mulford snuck a shot past Loyola backup keeper Lauren Smith.
“We played up to our best,” Smith said. “It was a long game with the three extra 10 minute halves. We performed as we always did. Sometimes, you’re just really unlucky and as much as we played well and played our game, so did New Trier. They’ve always been a very big opponent for us.”
The victory marked the third time in the last four years in which the Trevians ousted the Ramblers in the sectional championship.
Loyola dealt with the losses of keeper Brittany San Roman and midfielder Tori Iatarola, who both went down with leg injuries.
“Brittany and Tori are both amazing players, so it definitely affected us, but the good thing about our team is that we always have people to go in replace,” said Smith. “They’re people who work hard in practice and we know that they’ll have our back if someone is injured.”
With the possible broken foot that sidelined Iatarola, the Ramblers lost a playmaker with 10 goals and 30 assists.
“You just lost half you’re scoring in one minute,” said Snower. “She was able to suck it up and play. It was not a dirty play at all; I think two kids collided feet so no blame or anything like that. That’s just the unfortunate thing about soccer. She took a bad hit and by the end of the half, it had tightened up and once halftime went on and the adrenaline wore off, there was nothing you could do. You’re not going to risk a kid’s health in that situation.”
The injury in net forced an inexperienced Smith to enter the match, however the backup made some great saves, including one in the first overtime.
In the 52nd and 90th minutes, senior midfielder Rachel Shellenback and freshman midfielder Jessica Ritchie each had headers denied by San Roman and Smith respectively.
But it was Mulford in overtime who found the back of the net after Smith charged out.
“It’s a mistake,” Snower said. “There’s only three ways to score in that situation: phenomenal one on one effort, a mistake — which is probably what that was — or a set piece. They got a good effort and a mistake and give the kid credit to capitalize.”