Drake wasted several scoring chances, and Illinois State scored a goal in each half to hand the Bulldogs their first conference loss of the season.
It was the first defeat at Cownie Soccer Complex for Drake this year, which also saw its five-match unbeaten streak end on Sunday.
Drake was able to generate quite a few scoring opportunities. But unlike the Redbirds, the Bulldogs did not capitalize and that proved to be the difference. While Illinois State was cynical in its finishing, the Bulldogs could not score when they needed to.
“In a game which was nearly statistically even, we didn’t capitalize on our scoring opportunities, and if we hope to defeat a team like Illinois State, we need to be able to convert on our scoring chances,” Head Coach Lindsey Horner said.
Throughout the first half, the Bulldogs arguably outplayed the Redbirds. Drake was able to find some holes in the defensive front and outshot the visitors, 6-3.
But it was Jessica Carlson who found the net for Illinois State in the 38th minute, killing any momentum the Bulldogs might have had heading into the break.
“We came out with a lot of energy, but as the game went, our energy dwindled,” said sophomore Laura Moklestad. “As we were losing energy, Illinois State gained it, propelled by our inability to score.”
Things did not improve for the Bulldogs, who were shaken up early in the second half after Illinois’ Alyssa Schulz scored her second goal of the season just six minutes into the period. Down 2-0, Drake never recovered.
Despite creating more offense in the final third of the field, the Bulldogs failed to find the net and were stifled toward the end of the game by the stronghold the Redbirds took. Still, the team’s overall performance should not be overlooked.
“It’s hard to be content with a conference game when we lose, but I think at times we looked very good,” Moklestad said. “We just need to capitalize [on] our scoring opportunities and work hard defensively as a team for the whole 90 minutes.”
This was the last match in a six-game home stand for Drake, which went 4-1-1, including a win and a loss in conference play.
The Bulldogs will hit the road next Friday to face Indiana State, a team which will certainly be tough to beat on its home turf.
“Teams playing at home usually have a lot more energy than their opponents,” Moklestad said. “Most importantly, we need to match the intensity for the first 15 minutes of the game. We will have to play quickly and get many shots on frame.”
Photo: Eduardo Zamarripa