Story by Will Thornton
The Drake University men’s soccer campaign continued with an unfortunate finish to this past weekend’s Panther Invitational tournament in Milwaukee, Wis., falling 4-1 to Marquette University’s Golden Eagles on Sunday night.
The match started strong for the Bulldogs.
The first few minutes of action culminated in a spectacular save from Marquette redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon after the Drake midfield broke through and redshirt junior midfielder Jarred Arde put his first shot on goal.
Marquette responded with a goal in the 24th minute when freshman forward Coco Navarro whipped in a well-placed cross that found the foot of freshman midfielder Louis Bennett Jr.
The Bulldog defense seemingly fell asleep as it let another goal in not two minutes later, when Marquette redshirt sophomore forward James Nortey crossed into the box from the left wing and found the head of freshman defender Jake Taylor, who flicked it toward the far post for Navarro to finish and net his second goal of the season.
The absence of junior Bulldogs midfielder Kyle Whigham was felt all weekend, though Arde was able to fill his position.
“It’s going to be tough without (Whigham),” Arde said. “But we just have to deal with it and stay strong.”
“We were missing our engine in Kyle (Whigham),” head coach Sean Holmes said. “But we were missing him on Friday as well. If we played all games like we played (Milwaukee), we’d be 3-0-1.”
Holmes fired up the players at halftime as the Bulldogs strove to dig their way out of a 2-0 hole, and the start of the second half looked even more promising than the first.
Arde’s second shot on goal was again saved by Marquette keeper Lyon, but the parry landed near the feet of sophomore forward Danton Irelan, who took the chance and added his second goal of the season.
A sloppily conceded corner kick allowed Marquette another viable chance at scoring. The Golden Eagles’ senior defender Paul Dillon made certain the opportunity would be seized when his cross into the box found the towering 6-foot-7 redshirt sophomore defender Axel Sjoberg, whose header made it 3-1 for the hosts.
The third goal damaged the psyche of the fatigued Bulldogs, and Coach Holmes opted to replace some of the tired upperclassmen with younger players for the last several minutes.
The substitutes fought well for the time they were in, but couldn’t hold off the offensive from the Golden Eagles. They conceded their fourth and final goal in the 88th minute when Navarro recorded his second assist of the night with a well-placed pass through the Bulldog defense.
This found junior midfielder Sebastian Jansson, who slipped his shot into the open side of Drake redshirt senior goalkeeper Rich Gallagher’s net.
Players and coach alike chalked up the loss to the tiring 110-minute battle against Milwaukee just two nights before.
“Friday night’s result makes me believe we really can be competitive,” said Holmes said. “But having two games back-to-back is hard enough. Taking the first one to double overtime meant this game (against Marquette) was going to be very, very tough.”
Drake’s lone scorer on the evening, sophomore forward Danton Irelan, felt Friday’s fight held the Bulldogs back on Sunday.
“We put a lot of energy into the Milwaukee game,” Irelan said. “We didn’t come out with the same intensity (against Marquette), and once they got that corner kick goal, it was kind of out of our reach.”
The Bulldogs hope to earn their first win of the season when they host the University of Nebraska-Omaha on Friday at 8 p.m. at Cownie Soccer Complex.