For Loyola’s most passionate sports fans, the return of arguably the most popular sport on campus can be the best time of the year. On October 30th, the men’s basketball team will play its first game at home and host Calumet College. The regular season opener takes place on November 7th, also at the Gentile Arena against Fairleigh Dickinson University.
While the flashy passes and high-flying dunks will be exciting to watch, it’s important not to lose sight of the university’s other athletic programs.
In the school’s first year in the Atlantic 10 (A-10) Conference, other fall season sports are nearing the end of their seasons with tournaments on the horizon. These round-off sudden-death matches are sure to be more entertaining than a regular-season basketball game.
After four consecutive Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) championships, the women’s soccer team heads to the A-10 tournament. With two decisive wins over the University of Massachusetts and the University of Richmond on October 20 and 23, respectively, the Ramblers finished eighth in the A-10, becoming the last team to play the tournament. They meet No. 11 Saint Louis University in the quarterfinals on October 29.
The Loyola men’s soccer team has one last regular season game before the A-10 tournament begins. After the top eight teams from the conference qualified for the A-10 Championship, the Ramblers – currently in seventh place – meet Fordham University in a crucial game on Oct. 29 to advance to the postseason.
While fans seem to be waiting with bated breath for the basketball season to return to Gentile, the women’s volleyball team has already made its mark on the same court.
They were Loyola’s outstanding team this semester. With an unbeaten conference record of 12-0, the Ramblers sit at the top of the A-10 conference standings by a single win over the University of Dayton. With three more double-header opponents ahead of tournament play — including Dayton — the women’s volleyball team will look to stay in first place after the tournament begins on Nov. 18.
The Ramblers’ cross country team, both men’s and women’s, will also appear at the A-10 Conference Championships on October 29. The men’s team has finished first in three of its four invitational tournaments — second in the other — while the women’s team has placed in the top three in all but one of its four invitationals.
As for upcoming winter sports, the women’s basketball team also begins its season with an exhibition game on October 30th. Their season opener comes on November 7 against Western Michigan University, with their home opener on November 16 against the University of Michigan. They are expected to start conference play on December 28 when they face Saint Louis University away from home.
Loyola’s athletics will perform later in the semester when they open regular season competition on December 10 at the Blue Demon Invitational. This will be the Ramblers’ only track and field competition this semester, with their season continuing on Jan. 10 at the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa.
The Phoenix loves covering men’s basketball and watching the excitement build in the months leading up to tournament games and March Madness, but it’s important not to leave other players and teams in the rearview mirror. After months of struggling with hard-fought wins and losses, the support of the Rambler community means more now than it has all season.
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