Sophomore Erik Boyer scored his first career goal late in the second half to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 season-opening victory on the road against Loyola of Chicago.
The win marked the fourth consecutive season-opening victory for the Bulldogs. Drake is 13-11-2 all-time in season openers and 9-4-1 under head coach Sean Holmes.
“I was really proud of our effort tonight,” Holmes said. “Going anywhere for someone’s home season opener is always challenging and Loyola had a terrific crowd tonight.”
A great performance by senior goalkeeper Jordan Kadlec and timely goals were the story of the game for Drake.
“I don’t like to take credit. It’s not me, it’s a team effort,” Kadlec said.
Kadlec recorded a game-high seven saves as Loyola outshot Drake 13-7.
“Before the season I thought Jordan (Kadlec) was one of the best goalkeepers in the country and he proved it seven times over when we lost our way for spells,” Holmes said. “He ultimately was the difference maker in the game.”
Despite not having the shot advantage, the Bulldogs did not panic and were able to score first and settle into the game.
Senior Hunter Kennedy opened up the scoring at the 21:39 mark with the Bulldogs’ first goal of the season. Senior Matt Kuhn picked up the assist on the play.
However, the advantage did not last very long. The Ramblers were able to find the equalizer at the 26:38 mark to even the score at 1-1.
With only 12 minutes remaining in the second half, senior Charles Schwartz and freshman Thomas Schermoly put together a nice passing combination that Boyer finished off to give the Bulldogs the late lead.
“I thought at times we played some very tidy soccer and at other times we were sloppy and we were punished for that with their goal,” Holmes said. “We responded with three great chances in the final 10 minutes or so of the game before finally Erik (Boyer) capitalized on one.”
Drake held on and closed out the game to come home with the victory. It was a gutty performance for the Bulldogs, who were able to go on the road in their season debut and be out-shot and still come out on top.
“It’s always great to win our first game, Kadlec said. “It’s a big win, especially on the road. It was fun.”
Drake will travel to Western Illinois to close out its road swing Aug. 29 as the team continues its non-conference schedule.
“We have a tough road schedule. We just need to look forward to Monday’s game,” Kadlec said. “Take it one game at a time.”