Soccer players play for their heritage

Last Saturday, Sept. 28, was a special day; as part of the Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Night, both Loras College men’s and women’s soccer teams received Coe College in back-to-back matches.

This night is one of the diverse events organized by Loras College to celebrate Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month, which aims to celebrate the Latino culture and the contributions of Hispanic and Latin Americans to the history of the United States. In addition to the two soccer games, attendees had the opportunity to enjoy Mexican food such as tacos from El Paisano and a beverage called horchata, brewed by seniors Isabel Hernandez, Stephanie Meza, and Alma Tavares. Many Duhawks went to this event to support both teams.

Athletes from the men’s and women’s soccer programs pose for a group picture with coaches, students and faculty who all played important roles in furthering awareness of Latino/Heritage Month. Each athlete is holding a flag that represents their nationality or, for some, the country they hail from.

The Latino/Hispanic Heritage Night was also a special night for the Loras College soccer players, since many members on each team are Latino. Several countries are represented within the soccer teams, such as Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. These Duhawks felt honored to play during this heritage event.

“Somos Duhawks is a special day for us,” said senior forward Raudel Perez. “Soccer is an important piece of our culture and having a day dedicated to it makes us feel honored to be Latino.”

To kick off the evening, the women’s soccer team played first and brought some intensity to the evening. Sophomore forward Ryleigh O’Brian scored a goal after just one minute of play in an assist from senior forward Genna Sobieszcyck and junior forward Brynn Jacobi. Four minutes later, Jacobi scored her own goal, followed by another at 11:10 in an assist from O’Brian. Sophomore defender Braylin Mensik concluded the series four minutes later at 15:26, assisted by first-year midfield Payton McDonnell. The Duhawks won 4-0, with each goal scored in the first fifteen minutes.

No goals were scored for the rest of the game, but this comfortable and quickly-obtained lead was enough to ensure a victory. Both teams had approximately the same number of shots: 10 for Coe College and 17 for Loras. However, only three of the ten Coe College shots were on target, while the Loras College team shot ten times on target. The goal difference could have been higher without the six saves made by the Coe College goalkeeper.

This was a well-played game from the Loras College women’s team, a mere two days after an away victory (3-0) against the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. These victories have come at a good time, confirming the team is on the rise again after a series of defeats. The women’s soccer team will next play on Oct. 5 against Central College.

Following the women’s victory over Coe, the men’s soccer team took the field and played a very similar game to that of the women’s team. With the men’s team facing the same opponent and ending with the same final score, the biggest difference was that it took a little bit more time for the men’s team to score their goals than the women’s team. Both of the teams adopted the same tactic: relying on high and intensive personal scoring to cause opponents to make mistakes, recover the ball, and attack quickly. 

A lot of intensity — even tension — was invested into this game by both teams. However, this investment was much more successful for the Duhawks — who are used to this kind of intense play — than for Coe College. At the end of the game, the Duhawks had shot 38 times, whereas Coe College shot only five times.

Junior forward Tigrio Huerta took only six minutes to provoke a penalty kick and convert it into a goal. Sophomore defender Tiernan Talbot scored the second and last goal of the first half on the 20th minute, thanks to an assist from senior forward Mark Broderick and junior forward Many Lopez. 

Loras made the break 10 minutes after the beginning of the second half. The Duhawks were putting a lot of pressure on Coe College, which led to an own goal off of a Loras cross. 

A minute later, sophomore midfield Kevin Kacaba was taking advantage of a rebound caused by a shot by Tigrio Huerta to score the fourth and last goal of the game.

This victory was deemed a large win for the Loras soccer team, which has never lost to Coe in 16 matches.

The Duhawks now boast a record off nine wins, one tie and one loss. Perhaps a big reason for the team’s terrific record is the way it prepares for its matches.

“We always prepare the same way for every team,” said Perez. “We believe in respecting every opponent, regardless of who they are.”

The men’s team traveled to De Pere, WI., on Oct. 2 to play against St. Norbert College. They will also play this Saturday, Oct. 5, in Pella, IA, against Central College and hopefully keep the momentum going.

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