The Loyola women’s soccer team (4-2-1) defeated DePaul University 2-1 in a highly contested match at Loyola Soccer Park Sept. 8. Two goals by junior forward Sarah Noonan lifted the Ramblers past the Blue Demons in this year’s Red Line rivalry match.
These two teams last met Sept. 9, 2021, when Loyola took a 1-0 victory over DePaul at the Blue Demons’ turf. Loyola Head Coach Barry Bimbi mentioned the importance of the city-based rivalry and what it brings to the teams.
“I think it’s huge for confidence of the group,” Bimbi said. “It’s always nice to go out for an ice cream in the city and run into someone from the other team, you get to have a little bragging rights that you won the game.”
Loyola kicked-off the match by turning the ball over deep into DePaul territory with the intention of pressuring the Blue Demons with its offense. DePaul’s defensive line remained calm, however, and helped push the ball into Loyola’s box. Within the first two minutes of the game, the Blue Demons delivered their first shot on goal, but graduate goalkeeper Naya Lipkens was there for the save.
Loyola was quick to strike back, as a pass from senior striker Megan Nemec found senior midfielder Amanda Cassidy wide open right outside the box. Cassidy dribbled past a defender to record the Ramblers’ first shot of the game, but it was saved and sent to a corner kick by Blue Demons’ goalkeeper Mollie Eriksson.
In an eventful eight minutes of soccer, DePaul had the crowd at Loyola Soccer Park on the edge of their seats, as a Blue Demons through ball found an open striker to kick the ball into the net. However, the lateral referee raised his flag and called an offside on the play — a moment of relief for Loyola fans.
23 minutes into the game, Nemec dribbled past two defenders from the left corner of the field and sent a low cross into the DePaul box. Noonan anticipated a defender’s intention to clear the ball, and blocked it straight into the lower left corner of the goal to give the Ramblers a 1-0 lead.
With four minutes left in the first half, a Loyola through ball was met by freshman midfielder Ella Skelton with a one touch strike to the lower right side of the goal, but DePaul’s goalkeeper Elena Milam — subbed in for Eriksson after a potential unknown injury — came up with the save. This unleashed a Loyola offensive frenzy, setting up two more shots for the Ramblers within the next minute — both endured by the Blue Demons’ defense.
The first half came to a close with a 1-0 score in favor of the Ramblers. Loyola’s goal set the pace for the rest of the half and saw the Ramblers’ maintain their momentum. Loyola recorded eight shots and four corner kicks, compared to DePaul’s six and two, respectively.
The first fifteen minutes of the second half saw back and forth action between both teams, with DePaul taking two shots to Loyola’s one. In the 65th minute of the game, Nemec set herself up with a behind-the-back pass to put herself past the DePaul defense, but shot the ball inches wide of the right post.
Minutes later, Loyola came close to expanding its lead. A strike by Cassidy was met by freshman midfielder Kyrsten Pellikan to flick the ball into the net, but the goal was quickly annulled as Pellikan was ruled offside.
Down by one with 13 minutes to go, DePaul started to push the ball more aggressively down the field with deep, high passes. On the last of three high balls into Loyola’s box, a clearance attempted by junior defender Alaina Abel was deflected and recovered by DePaul’s Beth Smyth, who struck the ball into Loyola’s net to tie the game at one.
However, Noonan said she wasn’t satisfied after her first goal and that Bimbi sent her back into the game with a purpose she was determined to fulfill.
“I was ready to go and Barry, before I went in, he said ‘go score the game winner,’” Noonan said. “I was like alright I’ll go do it.”
With four minutes left in the game, Cassidy battled her way past a defender to send a low cross into the box intended for Noonan, who blasted the ball into the lower right corner of the goal to close the game 2-1 in favor of Loyola.
After the game, Bimbi said DePaul’s only goal came from a moment where his team lost focus. Regardless, he mentioned his satisfaction with the final result.
“I’m most happy about our team’s response,” Bimbi said. “They fought, they thought there was another chance or two in us, and we created a few. And Sarah, great composure on the game winner, you couldn’t ask anything more.”
Up next, the Ramblers will face the University of Illinois when they travel to Champaign Sept. 11. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on Big Ten Network.
Sports editor Fernando Molina Bier is a senior double majoring in economics and multimedia journalism with a passion for sports. He’s a proud Honduran and member of the Latino community.
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Loyola Women's Soccer Team Keeps Red Line Rivalry Bragging Rights With 2-1 Win Over DePaul – Loyola Phoenix