Story by Will Thornton
Photo by Joel Venzke
Tensions were high, as Drake faced an overwhelming home crowd of over 3,000, including an intimidating Lobos student section.
The Bulldogs faced a hungry and tenacious Lobos team and were subjected to a relentless offense during both halves.
New Mexico outshot Drake 7-2 during the first half and 6-2 for the second half, and also held 4-1 and 3-1 advantages in corner kicks for the respective halves.
Redshirt freshman Drake goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod started in his second game between the posts and earned his second career shutout.
MacLeod worked to produce six saves during the 90 minutes, with two coming in the first half and four in the second.
The teams emerged from the first half goalless, and the second half looked to be heading in that direction until just minutes before the game stretched to overtime.
In the 88th minute, Drake senior defender Nick Marshall found space for a cross to land by the New Mexico goal’s left post.
The pass found the foot of senior midfielder Addison Eck, who took a well-placed touch to slip it past senior New Mexico goalkeeper Michael Lisch.
The revitalized and invigorated Bulldogs lasted the final two and a half minutes before celebrating their first win over a ranked opponent since the 2009 season, a campaign that saw Drake earn the Missouri Valley Conference championship as well as a spot in the NCAA National Championship Elite Eight.
“We were pretty ecstatic,” Eck said. “Going into New Mexico and beating them in front of 3,000 fans was pretty cool. I don’t think anyone on our team has ever really experienced anything like that.”
“Friday’s game was the same sort of experience that existed in our games in 2008 and 2009,” said Drake head coach Sean Holmes. “That game was as tough as it gets, and we survived it. We just need to generate our own energy from here on out.”
Coach Holmes expressed optimism for the future of the team and the players individually.
“The first couple of weeks I didn’t think (the seniors) were playing to their potential, but Friday they were to a man,” said Holmes. “If we were to keep winning, to keep replicating this level of intensity, we could be a contender for the NCAA tournament.”
The Drake defense has now gone 200 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, a significant achievement given the team’s defensive woes in the season’s prior games.
“I definitely think we were more organized, especially in our defending,” redshirt sophomore centerback Alec Bartlett said. “There was also a certain pride issue too. We’d given up 15 goals in five games, and we were kind of sick of getting scored on.”
The Bulldogs host the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Friday, where they look to continue their run of good form and earn their third win of the season.