1979 Soccer Team (2000)
In order for an athletic program to jumpstart a winning tradition, it usually takes one special team to push it across that boundary which separates the timid contender from the proud victor. For Loyola's soccer program, 1979 produced just such a team. Playing a difficult schedule that included strong Catholic League and public school teams, the 1979 Soccer Team complied a sparkling 19-2-2 record. In the process, the team captured the Hales Franciscan Tournament early on and the state subsectional at season's end. In between those two titles, the 1979 team laid claim to the biggest prize of all - the first Chicago Catholic League championship in the brief history of Loyola soccer. Although Loyola had been playing successful soccer as a club sport as early as 1963 through the tireless efforts of Mr. Les Sendy, by the late 1970's it was league power Gordon Tech and the area public schools which dominated the local soccer scene. The 1979 Loyola team proved it could win even without the advantages of the strong feeder program and summer soccer camp which other teams enjoyed. All that was necessary was a team with a desire to win and a willingness to do whatever it took to accomplish that goal. The 1979 team demonstrated great teamwork and commitment. It did not have a superstar, yet it had players whose competitive nature, athleticism, and work ethic combined to make the '79 season one to remember. Coaches Joe Cipolla and Les Sendy, both largely responsible for the growth of the soccer program at Loyola, had an abundance of solid talent on the 1979 team. The team was led by Bill Crowley, the winner of the combined Coaches' and Most Valuable Player awards. Crowley was named to the Catholic League All-Star team, along with teammates Eric Bolling (Hall of Fame 2000), Arnold Eichlof, Kevin Finn, and Bob Reda. The team was also sparked by the play of several outstanding seniors. Jim O'Brien, Bill O'Keefe, George Pelesh, Bill Pedraza, Tom Kussworm, Tom O'Brien, and Sean Mahoney were instrumental to the team's success. A core of strong juniors also contributed to the record-setting season. Chris O'Keefe, Dave Saunders, Oscar Pedraza, and Rich Schneider played their roles to perfection. The 1979 Soccer Team succeed because of hard work, unselfish commitment, and immense heart. It set a new standard of performance and excellence for the Loyola Academy Soccer program.