Valparaiso and Loyola played a scoreless first half Sunday night in Chicago, Ill., but the Ramblers pulled ahead with a goal in the 57th minute and eventually went on to a 2-0 victory.
“I thought we got some good chances tonight, played some good balls, but just couldn’t get the end result of a goal,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “You have to give Loyola credit, they won the physical battles tonight.”
Loyola held a 9-3 shots advantage in the first half, and owned the best scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes as well. The Ramblers’ Keum Sung Kim ricocheted a shot off the cross bar in the 20th minute that bounced straight back down, where it was covered up by Crusader goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West). Zobeck also made three saves in the opening half, including a nice stop in the 42nd minute on a shot by Kim.
Loyola got on the board early in the second half on a goal by Alex Jones. Jones headed a ball past Zobeck from close range after a cross from Kim from the left side to give the Ramblers a 1-0 advantage.
Valpo had its best scoring opportunity of the game a few minutes later. Senior forward Oscar Lomeli (Jalisco, Mexico/ [Bethel (Ind.)]) carried possession down the right sideline all the way to the end line and found his way past a Loyola defender for a cross into the box. Junior midfielder J.J. Del Castillo (Mexico City, Mexico/Seaholm [Gardner-Webb]) was waiting about 12 yards out on the left side, but his shot went high of the frame.
Loyola closed out the scoring in the 73rd minute when Josh Westberg found Eric Gehrig in the middle of the field 20 yards from the goal. Gehrig sent a low shot skipping along the ground that found its way inside the left post to make it 2-0 Ramblers.
Loyola (7-2-1, 3-1-0 Horizon) out-shot the Crusaders by an 18-11 margin and put six shots on goal versus two for Valpo. Zobeck stopped four shots, while his counterpart Brian Byrne made two saves. Paul Leitelt (Munster, Ind./Munster) led the Crusader attack with six shot attempts.
Valparaiso (4-6-2, 0-3-1 Horizon) continues its three-match road trip Saturday evening in Cleveland, Ohio as the Crusaders take on the Vikings of Cleveland State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CDT.