STORY BY COLTON WARREN
Darrin MacLeod stretched right just as a shot passed his gloves, a save the Drake men’s soccer team desperately needed in overtime. The Drake goalkeeper watched a cross come in front of the box to the University of Illinois- Chicago’s, Jorge Alvarez. Alvarez collected the pass and beat MacLeod for the game winner in the 106th minute at Cownie Soccer Complex Monday night.
“Obviously, really, kind of a gutting end to the game,” Drake head coach Sean Holmes said after the loss. “We were so good for such large portions of the game.”
The 1-0 double-overtime loss came on a night that the Bulldogs couldn’t seem to finish on quality chances, with several shots pushed just wide of the net.
“The two hardest things, really, in games are creating and finishing chances. So we created some, and now we have to just apply ourselves enough to the part of finishing chances,” Holmes said. “We created three or four really good chances that we needed to put away.”
Sophomore James Wypych had chances to put the Bulldogs ahead on each side of halftime, two of which went left of a wide-open goal. Wypych led Drake with three shots.
Drake held the No. 24 Flames scoreless through regulation thanks to a stellar performance in the defensive third.
“For them to have cleaned themselves up as much as they have is really, really good,” Holmes said of his defense. “I think what makes them pretty good is the six guys in front of them understand the importance of defending, so it’s really a collective effort.”
Holmes said he has seen a lot of development in his team since their season opening draw against Houston Baptist.
“We are considerably better than we were 10 days ago when we had our first game against Houston Baptist. We have improved dramatically … so we take some consolation in that,” Holmes said.
Holmes felt good going forward despite the overtime loss. He said the biggest concern is finishing shots in close, and close games down the stretch.
“I don’t feel like we have to go back and come up with ideas and personnel changes. We just have to refine,” Holmes said about their upcoming road stretch. “I think if you’re Illinois- Chicago, when they watch the video they’ll be like, ‘Well, we snuck one out here.’”
Drake suffered the tough home loss going into a long stretch away from Des Moines. Its next six matches will be on the road, starting with Marquette on Sept. 13.