Second-half goals from Jabari Danzy and Christian Volesky led the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Loyola in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon.
“At this time of year, the most important thing is getting results and advancing,” Head Coach Kevin Kalish said. “Give our guys credit for finding a way to win and stepping up in key moments.”
After a scoreless first half, SIUE (8-8-2) found the net twice in a span of 12 minutes during the second half. Loyola (6-11-2) scored a late goal but it proved to be no more than a consolation for the Ramblers.
The Cougars put five shots on goal while only allowing three, with goalkeeper John Berner making two saves in net for SIUE. The win was the Cougars’ third victory in a row.
“Loyola is a well-organized team and we were frustrated a bit in the first half as we lacked tempo in our play,” Kalish said. “Our collective response in the second half was much better. We played with much more urgency and we had a few players make plays which was the difference.”
The first half offered little in terms of scoring chances on either end, but SIUE began to increase the pressure as the first 45 minutes wore on.
Danzy, named MVC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after his game-winning goal against Missouri State last weekend, gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute.
Gabe Christianson played a lofted ball over the top of the Loyola back line, and Danzy let the ball bounce before heading past an on-rushing Tim Dobrowolski for his second goal in as many games.
SIUE doubled its lead 12 minutes later, with Volesky scoring his team-leading sixth goal of the season. Ben Sauerwein forced a takeaway in SIUE’s half before playing an outlet pass to Danzy. The sophomore raced down the right flank and played a well-weighted ball to Volesky, who ran on to the pass and coolly finished low past Dobrowolski.
Loyola was able to pull a goal back late in the second half, with Brian Bement scoring from close range off a goal-mouth scramble as the Ramblers threw numbers forward.
“We were sound defensively for the majority of the match,” Kalish added. “We were a bit sloppy and undisciplined after scoring the second goal. That is something we’ll address, but now we focus on Friday’s match and another quality opponent.”
The Cougars now move on to the tournament semifinals on Friday, where they’ll take on top-seeded Missouri State at 3 p.m. It will be the teams’ second time facing one another in less than a week, after SIUE defeated the Bears 1-0 in Springfield, Mo., last Saturday.