The Drake men’s soccer squad closed out its regular season campaign on a winning note, toppling the Bears 1-0 and earning its first road win at Missouri State since 2005.
A goal from junior Nick Marshall at the 75:24 mark proved to be the difference for the Bulldogs, who managed to squeak out the victory despite being outshot by the Bears 17-3.
Head coach Sean Holmes praised the Bulldogs for hanging in there and garnering a tough road result.
“I was so proud because we have had many games this year where we’ve played well and not gotten a result,” said Holmes in a Drake athletics press release. “Tonight we were generally outplayed, we didn’t play our usual brand of intelligent, possession-based soccer and still managed to win, and that isn’t a bad thing. Missouri State before hitting its losing streak in conference play is always a tough team to reckon with. Less than two weeks ago they tied No. 19 SMU on the road, so for us to get out of their place and get a result is awesome.”
With the win, the Bulldogs (5-10-4, 2-2-2 MVC) secured the No. 5 seed at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in Peoria, Ill. Drake will be taking on Evansville on Wednesday at 3 p.m. The winner gets the chance to take on No. 16 Creighton in the semi-finals.
“We wrestled with the reality that we couldn’t affect our seeding too much this evening,” Holmes said. “We weren’t sure whether we should perhaps rest some players or go out with 100 percent confidence and play everyone and build momentum heading into the tournament. We chose the latter and it paid off.”
Drake was outshot by Missouri State 9-1 in the first half but managed to keep the score tied heading into the break.
The momentum didn’t shift much in the second half as the Bears dominated possession and came close to opening up the score early in the second half.
“We should have been behind several times in the game, especially in the opening minutes of the second half when the Bears missed three almost rapid-fire chances within the six-yard box,” Holmes said.
The Bulldogs found the winning goal after a free kick from junior Addison Eck. The goalkeeper fumbled the ball and Marshall put it in the back of the net. Eck was credited with the assist.
“Our back four did a great job of protecting Rich (Gallagher), who himself came up with several tremendous saves,” Holmes said. “Nick (Marshall), Alec (Bartlett), Austin (Reutzel) and Jon (Choda), three of whom are freshmen, were absolutely top class tonight. Their goalie, who otherwise was perfect, bobbled one of our kicks that Nick (Marshall) headed in from two yards out. That Nick (Marshall) scored the winning goal is icing on the cake.”
Drake hung on for its first win in Springfield, Mo., since 2005. Redshirt junior Rich Gallagher registered a game-high four saves, and fifth-year senior Michael Thaden led Drake with two shots on goal.
The Bulldogs will take on Evansville on Wednesday in the MVC quarterfinals. Drake and Evansville last met on Oct. 27 in a match that ended in a 2-2 double-overtime tie at Cownie Soccer Complex.